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The State of Reform
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Can teenage election workers solve two of democracy's challenges at once?


Can teenage election workers solve two of democracy's challenges at once?

Recruiting enough workers to staff the more than 200,000 polling places across the country has been a longstanding struggle. Now, the coronavirus is making the problem even worse — because older people, who are the majority of poll workers, are also at the greatest risk of getting the infection.

In response, states are getting creative, increasingly asking their younger populations — including some not yet old enough to vote — to step up and play an essential role in the election process. While it's not widely known, people younger than 18 can be poll workers in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Recruiting members of Generation Z has become critical this year because aging Baby Boomers are especially vulnerable to Covid-19. But long before the pandemic transformed the country — and the way elections are run — in a matter of weeks, keeping up the supply of election workers has long been a sore subject for election officials. And it has been getting worse.

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Good-government groups ask Trump and Biden to unmask campaign bundlers

Good-government groups are launching a new push for campaign finance transparency during the presidential campaign.

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A coalition of 20 organizations, from across the ideological spectrum, sent letters to both the Trump and Biden campaigns on Tuesday requesting they disclose their most prolific "bundlers" — the rich and well-connected people whom politicians rely on to collect donations from their friends and business associates.

While federal law does not require presidential candidates to name their bundlers, unless they are registered lobbyists, it has long been a bipartisan practice.

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Democrats hit back at Trump campaign in Pennsylvania countersuit

Two weeks after the Trump campaign filed its first voting-by-mail lawsuit, hoping for more restrictive absentee balloting rules in bellwether Pennsylvania, Democrats have struck back with a countersuit looking to loosen those same processes.

The state party, 15 politicians and Democratic Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, sued in state court to make the state relax five of its its vote-by-mail rules in time for November — when turnout will shape who wins the state's 20 electoral votes.

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To mail voting's bigger challenges, add a lost envelope boomlet in the Northeast

The challenges from this year's surge of mail voting continue to mount.

At least 130,000 primary ballots across the country have arrived too late to be counted, while tens of thousands more have been tossed because of missing signatures or other flaws — a 1 percent overall rejection rate in primaries so far that, while relatively small, could still prove decisive in a close election.

And then there are the envelopes that arrive on time and are completed correctly, but somehow don't get tabulated, leaving elections in limbo and local clerks embarrassed, although free of accusations of fraud. That's now happened twice this month alone — just in towns along Interstate 90 in the Northeast.

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Medill Podcast: Impact of mail-in voting on the presidential election

Amid fears of a coronavirus resurgence, mail-in voting is at the center of this year's discussion about how to safely and effectively host November's presidential election. Critics argue that voting from home could delay election results, possibly up to a few weeks, and mail-in ballots are susceptible to tampering.

But Audrey Kline, the National Policy Director at the Vote at Home Institute, argues that mail-in ballots could increase engagement and education among voters. On this week's episode, Kline talks about the difference between absentee ballots and mail-in ballots, if voting from home will affect how presidential candidates campaign across the country and how long could voters wait before election results will be released.

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How to rename D.C.'s football team and help fix democracy, too

Wondering what Washington's NFL team should change its name to? Author and senior fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy Michael Golden has an idea.


Diversity in the Democracy Reform Movement

The Fulcrum is convening a panel to talk about the importance of leaning into the diversity of the movement and how the foundations of democracy reform are built on social justice and civil rights. Register now.

Medill-Fulcrum Fact Check

Claim: President Trump can cut off funding for schools. Fact check: Mixed

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