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While paper ballots are seen as a good way to prevent election fraud, advocates for the disabled say voting machines are necessary to assure accessibility.

Disabled voters push against the revival of paper ballots

While electronic voting equipment offers the most accessibility to the disabled, paper ballots are the preferred method in this moment of heightened worries about election security. Reconciling the disconnect before the 2020 election is becoming a top priority of disability advocates.

"Between security and accessibility, one is not more important than the other," Michelle Bishop, a voting rights expert at the National Disability Rights Network, told Stateline. "We have to be able to do both if we really want to make democracy work."

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During his State of the Union address this year, President Trump said he would stonewall the legislative process if members of Congress don't play ball, writes Neal.

A year of broken standards for America’s democracy

Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.

The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.

Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.

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The founders of Register2Vote, Madeline Eden and Jeremy Smith, preparing registration information for mailing in Texas last year.

After successful Texas debut, tech-based voter registration platform goes national

Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.

"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."

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Furloughed federal employees protest on Capitol Hill in January.

Democratic dysfunction comes with $4 billion bill

For those who believe the breakdown of American democracy has no cost beyond the aggravation of the citizenry, consider the figure $4 billion.

That's the minimum, measurable cost to taxpayers of the most recent three partial government shutdowns, according to a bipartisan report released Tuesday by a Senate panel.

Most of that money, $3.7 billion, went to back pay to federal workers who were furloughed during the shutdowns — and did not perform any work during that time. An additional $300 million-plus went for other costs that include extra administrative work and lost revenue.

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