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The State of Reform
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Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.

Balance of power wobbles again after Supreme Court ruling on Trump taxes


Balance of power wobbles again after Supreme Court ruling on Trump taxes

The balance of power, which is central to a functional democracy, just got nudged a little bit further out of alignment.

Congress does not have a clear or immediate right to see President Trump's tax or financial records, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The 7-2 decision sent the case back to the lower courts for more work, but it opened the door wide for an eventual additional weakening of the legislative branch's already atrophied leverage over the executive branch.

The halfway ruling in that case and a separate decision clearing the way for prosecutors in New York to review Trump's tax returns, but not right away, have an obviously important political consequence: delaying until after the election any harmful public revelations about Trump's business dealings.

For those more focused on the long-term aspiration of a governing system that works better and inspires more public confidence, the decisions offered more muddled reasons for both worry and hope.

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Good-government groups sue New York to fix absentee ballot verification

Good-government groups are suing the New York Board of Elections to secure improvements to what they say is a "flawed" absentee ballot verification system.

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New York has consistently had one of the highest absentee ballot rejection rates in the country, and voters aren't given the opportunity to address problems, such as a missing signature. In 2018, state election officials tossed out 34,000 ballots, or 14 percent of the total mail ballots cast.

With many more New Yorkers expected to vote by mail in November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, good-government groups argue the state's current ballot verification process is unconstitutional and could lead to thousands more disenfranchised voters this fall.

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TRENDING: Mass. among first states extending vote-by-mail expansion to November

Massachusetts has dropped its excuse requirements for voting by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic — not only in this summer's primary but also in the general election.

Legislation signed on Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker is significant because it makes Massachusetts among the first states to lock in the ability of all registered voters to cast ballots by mail for November.

While a majority of states have made it easier in at least some ways to vote remotely during the primaries, deliberations across the country about the rules for mail voting in the general election are only beginning to ramp up.

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State by state, electoral reform is happening — but not fast enough

"If the last year saw electoral reform policies inch forward, the next year offers an opportunity to leap ahead," writes Unite America's Tyler Fisher.


A Call to Action: Making Our Democracy Work for Working Families

Democracy for All 2021 invites you to a conversation with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, on why we must make our democracy work for all workers and their families in November and in the future.

We’re all about the issues that have broken American democracy — and efforts to make governments work again for you, your family and your friends.
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