Re-Engineering Politicians: How Activist Groups Choose Our Candidates—Long Before We Vote

Re-Engineering Politicians: How Activist Groups Choose Our Candidates—Long Before We Vote. Brookings Institution. Jonathan Rauch and Raymond J. La Raja.  December  7, 2017

Political analysts sometimes refer to the process by which candidacies emerge and test their viability as the “invisible primary”: activities like candidate recruitment, training, networking, grassroots cultivation, and more. The practice has changed drastically in recent years, with far-reaching effects. This paper examines these alterations and their effects on American democracy, especially focusing on the role of independent groups in shaping the primary battlefield. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress

Electoral College Reform: Contemporary Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Thomas H. Neale. October 6, 2017

The electoral college method of electing the President and Vice President was established in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and revised by the Twelfth Amendment. It provides for election of the President and Vice President by electors, commonly referred to as the electoral college. A majority of 270 of the 538 electoral votes is necessary to win.

The electoral college has been the subject of criticism and proposals for reform since before 1800. Constitutional and structural criticisms have centered on several of its features: (1) although today all electors are chosen by the voters in the presidential election, it is claimed to be not fully democratic, since it provides indirect election of the President; (2) it can lead to the election of candidates who win the electoral college but fewer popular votes than their opponents, or to contingent election in Congress if no candidate wins an electoral college majority; (3) it results in electoral vote under- and over-representation for some states between censuses; and (4) “faithless” electors can vote for candidates other than those they were elected to support.

Legislative and political criticisms include (1) the general ticket system, currently used in all states except Maine and Nebraska, which is alleged to disenfranchise voters who prefer the losing candidates in the states; (2) various asserted “biases” that are alleged to favor different states and groups; and (3) the electoral college “lock,” which has been claimed to provide an electoral college advantage to both major parties at different times.

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Public Supports Aim of Making It ‘Easy’ for All Citizens to Vote

Public Supports Aim of Making It ‘Easy’ for All Citizens to Vote. Pew Research Center. June 28, 2017

Only one-in-five back mandatory voting

As states around the country debate laws regarding access to the ballot – ranging from automatic voter registration to voter ID requirements – most Americans back making it easy for all citizens to vote. But they overwhelmingly reject the idea of requiring people to vote. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Election Security in America: Q & A.

Election Security in America: Q & A. Pew Charitable Trusts. March 8, 2017

Every U.S. state has a Secretary of State. Among the responsibilities of that position is running elections. The state secretaries recently met in Washington, D.C., to evaluate the past election season and to discuss what they can do to improve the process. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, who serves as the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, spoke with The Pew Charitable Trusts about the security of voting in America. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Proposals to Eliminate Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns

Proposals to Eliminate Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Sam Garrett. February 7, 2017

Congress is faced with determining whether it wants public financing of presidential campaigns to continue and, if so, how. The 113th Congress and President Obama chose to eliminate part of the program—public funding for nominating conventions—in April 2014 via P.L. 113-94 (H.R. 2019).1 The 2016 conventions were the first to be entirely privately financed since 1972. Public matching funds and grants remain in place for candidates who choose to participate. There is, however, a consensus even among supporters that the presidential public financing program is antiquated and offers insufficient benefits to attract the most competitive candidates.

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Europe Needs to Take Heed and Reform in Wake of Italy, Austria Outcomes

Europe Needs to Take Heed and Reform in Wake of Italy, Austria Outcomes. Brookings Institution. Theodore Pelagidis. December 6, 2016

The “no vote” victory rejecting Italy’s constitutional referendum is widely interpreted as a clear win for anti-globalization populist forces in Europe. Even the defeat of Austria’s anti-immigrant populist Norbert Hofer last Sunday in the presidential elections, with just a 53-47 percentage, is seen in the same vein, as the extreme-right candidate’s loss was slim. Forces from the political edges are gaining ground in the post-truth era and many pundits think the path of global integration has stalled. The author sees it differently. The schism of societies currently underway, even in the prosperous western democracies, is more of a globalization victory than a defeat. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Race for the Senate 2016: Five things to look for on Election Day

Race for the Senate 2016: Five things to look for on Election Day. Brookings Institution. Molly E Reynolds· November 4, 2016

With just four days to go before Election Day, the battle for control of the U.S. Senate remains heated. Over the past two weeks, FixGov has offered analysis of ten key Senate races. Here are five major takeaways from the Race for the Senate 2016:
• How much ticket splitting will we see?
• What challenges do candidates face when running for Senate in a presidential swing state?
• Will women voters be pivotal in electing more women to the Senate?
• Will outside money flowing into Senate races make a difference?
• Do states’ choices about how to run their elections have consequences?
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