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Common Cause

Working together, we are building a democracy that works for all of us. Every aspect of our elections and representative self-government must be fair, open, accessible, and set-up so we all have faith in the integrity of election outcomes and the people we elect to serve us. Common Cause is solutions-oriented. Our network of democracy experts, working at the state and local level across the country, are winning pragmatic, common sense solutions and building a national movement that will make sure our generation secures and strengthens democracy for the next. We work to ensure that every vote counts, that every eligible voter has an equal say, that our elections represent the will of the people, and that our government is of, by, and for the people.

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Where the presidential candidates stand on the top issues of democracy reform

This story has been revised after additional reporting.

Steadily if still softly, anxiety about the health of American democracy has become at least a secondary theme in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Proposals for restoring the public's faith in elections, and a sense of fairness in our governing system, have now earned a place on most of the candidates' platforms. And more and more of them have been including calls for democracy reform in their stump speeches.

To be sure, the topic has not come close to the top tier of issues driving the opening stages of the campaign. In the first round of candidate debates last month, for example, the contenders collectively spent less time talking about democracy's ills than eight other issues: health care, President Trump's record, immigration, social policy, economic inequality, gun control, foreign policy and the environment.

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The current map of state House districts in North Carolina, won by 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats last fall.

Gerrymandering back in court as N.C. case asks: Will states step in where Supreme Court would not?

The Supreme Court's landmark ruling that federal judges are powerless to police political gerrymandering is not going to be the final word on the matter from an American courthouse.

Opening arguments were heard Monday in a state court lawsuit challenging the work of North Carolina's aggressive Republican mapmakers, the same folks whose work on congressional districts survived a high court challenge in Washington just three weeks ago.

But this time, the plaintiffs (led by Common Cause) are challenging the boundaries of state legislative districts — alleging they abridge North Carolina's constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and equal protection and so should be tossed out, even if they can no longer be challenged as violating the U.S. Constitution.

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People gather in front of the Supreme Court in late June as the justices announce their decision blocking a citizenship question from being included in the 2020 census.

Even without a citizenship question, fear complicates 2020 census

Civil rights groups celebrated the government's decision to throw out the citizenship question from the 2020 census. But some worry the damage has already been done.

Simply the notion of having a citizenship question on the census could still deter residents, particularly those from immigrant communities, from participating next year. The mistrust and misinformation surrounding the census was further amplified Wednesday when President Trump tweeted that news reports indicating the Commerce Department had dropped the question were "FAKE!"

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images News

Tax returns show Joe Biden has donated to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund on an annual basis, while Bernie Sanders has done so occasionally and Kamala Harris has never contributed, at least during the years for which they have made their tax returns public.

What the Democrats' tax returns say about their support for public financing

Public financing of federal campaigns has become a talking point for Democratic presidential candidates, most of whom have decried the corrupting influence of outside money in politics.

Tax returns released by several of the highest-profile candidates, however, reveal a disconnect between their speeches and their actions.

Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke have co-sponsored legislation in Congress to create or significantly expand public financing of congressional and presidential elections. But on the annual income tax returns they've made public, none has checked the box for participating in the only current federal public finance system — the largely moribund Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

And Bernie Sanders, the most prominent crusader for public financing, leaves the box unchecked in most years.

Those decisions have created a small but symbolic gap between words and deeds that political opponents love to pounce on. These candidates could also be exposing themselves to criticism they are being hypocritical, or at least insincere, on one of the most ambitious democracy reform ideas being deliberated in the 2020 presidential campaign.

In addition, none of the Democrats has asked to take money from the fund. To qualify for public money, presidential candidates must agree not to accept private contributions and cap their spending in each state. This puts modern-day candidates at a disadvantage in an era of skyrocketing campaign costs.

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