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Fledgling fix-the-system crusaders handed a free online toolkit

Anyone can get involved in the democracy reform movement, but it can be hard to know how to start. Now there's an online toolkit to ease the launch of state and local campaigns.

DemocracyU provides information, policy best-practices, and resources for citizens and policymakers who want to be a part of the reform movement in their community. It was launched Monday by the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for tighter campaign finance rules and easier access to the polls.

"CLC seeks a future in which every American has a fair and equitable opportunity to participate in and affect the U.S. democratic process," said Catie Kelley, the group's senior policy director. "However, many people feel excluded. Voters are frustrated by an election system, and ultimately office holders, they feel do not represent them."

The toolkit highlights three ideals for improving the American political system: boosting transparency, accountability and inclusion. To that end, it offers primers, policy options, case studies and research to help advocates for eight different sorts of change:

  • Curbing coordination between candidates and what are supposed to be independent advocacy groups.
  • Compelling disclosure of those who pay for digital campaign ads.
  • Creating ethics commissions at the state and local levels.
  • Persuading states to turn legislative district mapmaking over to independent commissions.
  • Increasing public financing of campaigns.
  • Replacing the current plurality-wins election system with ranked-choice voting.
  • Stopping the secrecy afforded donors to outside campaign advocacy groups.
  • Expanding the voting rights of convicted felons and easing access to the polls for those jailed on lesser charges.

For instance, under the public financing section, CLC lists jurisdictions where this campaign finance reform has already been implemented. It also outlines the two main methods of public financing used today: matching funds and vouchers. (Seattle is the first, and only, city to have a voucher-based system. All others use a matching funds program.)

Whether users are new to democracy reform or are already involved in a campaign for change, CLC's DemocracyU toolkit aims to educate and be a resource for all.

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