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No sports on TV? Here’s democracy bracketology (Voting Division)

Democracy reform is a really broad topic — with many more ideas for fixing the system than the long list of reasons why Americans say the government's not working for them.

So which is the most transformative proposal for ending the dysfunction and putting voters back at the center of things? Since you may have more time to think during this season of social distancing, it seems a good time to ask: If you had to pick a single reform, what would it be?

We're calling this Democracy Madness.

The NCAA tournament never happened, baseball hasn't started and pro basketball and hockey are in limbo. But we all love competition, so we've seeded 64 proposals and divided them among four topical "regions."

We'll tackle a quarter of the draw at a time. Your votes on voting reforms today and tomorrow will turn the top 16 ideas into eight — two days later we'll be down to four, and so on. (Future brackets will contest ideas for reforming campaign finance, elections, civic life and Congress.)

You can click the matchups, then each label, for more about the proposals. Click the Vote Now button to get started.



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Americans much more unified because of the virus, poll finds

Times of crisis often bring people together. And American solidarity has grown in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, a new poll shows.

A vast majority of Americans feel the country has become more unified by its most serious public health emergency in a century, according to a survey released Friday by the nonprofit More in Common, which is focused on combating polarization. But most are also scared about their health and an impending economic depression.

Given how fractured and tribal the country's politics have become in recent decades, the survey offers the slimmest of silver linings: The electorate is capable of finding common ground — it just may take them first confronting a life-altering pandemic.

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Convergence

David Eisner, pictured with his wife, Lori, in the Andalusia region of Spain, brings bipartisan credentials to his new job.

Meet the reformer: David Eisner, taking a top mediator into its 2nd decade

Inability to reach consensus has long been at the heart of democracy's dysfunction. For the past decade, Convergence has gained notice for getting people on opposite ideological sides to find agreement on seemingly intractable policy fights. This week, founder Rob Fersh handed the reins to David Eisner, whose bipartisan credentials are hard to top. Before spending six years running Repair the World, the largest Jewish service organization, he created the nonprofit All for Good to support the Obama administration's public service initiative and directed AmeriCorps in the George W. Bush administration. He's also chaired the National Constitution Center and been the executive in charge of AOL Time Warner's philanthropy. His answers have been edited for clarity and length

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

Convergence facilitates leaders across sectors and perspectives to overcome the mistrust caused by sharp differences and political polarization, and to collaboratively find new solutions to urgent policy issues, such as education, economic mobility and health care.

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Our weakened democracy may be made even weaker by coronavirus

Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College.

Responding to its place at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, New York has now joined 13 other states in postponing presidential primaries. Where elections have gone forward, fears of disease exposure have depressed same-day turnout. President Trump is exercising broad emergency powers. Though masked by last week's votes for the economic rescue package, the political system still is awash in hyper-partisanship. Congress is unlikely to check executive branch overreach in a bipartisan way.

Commentators and public officials are rightly concerned about the toll the new coronavirus is taking on democratic processes in the United States.

The problems caused by the current crisis have been layered on top of ongoing voter suppression efforts, partisan gerrymandering and the flood of big money into political campaigns. All are signs that American democracy is in trouble. Thus today it is easy to find headlines asking "Is democracy dying?"

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