Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Sam Garrett. September 4, 2018
Conventional wisdom holds that the federal government plays relatively little role in U.S. campaigns and elections. Although states retain authority for most aspects of election administration, a closer look reveals that the federal government also has steadily increased its presence in campaigns and elections in the past 50 years. Altogether, dozens of congressional committees and federal agencies could be involved in federal elections under current law.
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Blockchains Will Change the Way the World Votes. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Phillip Meylan, Daniel F. Runde. January 26, 2018
Amid the clamor around bitcoin’s ascendant (now descendant) value, the potential of a far greater contributor to society has been clouded. Bitcoin—which has in recent months been both the godsend and the bane of speculative investors around the world—is made possible by its underlying blockchain technology. Lauded as a technological innovation on the same magnitude as the internet, blockchains at their simplest are diffuse electronic ledgers that garner efficiency, transparency, and remarkable security through a decentralized structure. You don’t have to understand everything about the underlying technology to see how such a system could have a significant impact on our lives.
Blockchains are now being adopted globally for things as diverse as smart contracts, property rights, health care, and humanitarian assistance. But, blockchains also have enormous potential to revolutionize the way elections are conducted. If implemented correctly, such systems could mobilize new electorates, increase voter participation, reduce election violence, and make elections more secure and reliable than ever before. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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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. 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. 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. 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. 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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