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6 takeaways from a liberal democracy reform scorecard of Congress

It's no surprise that Democrats in Congress rank better on democracy reform than their Republican counterparts, especially when progressive groups are keeping score. Over the last year, GOP members were largely opposed to Democratic efforts to get big money out of politics and expand access to the ballot box.

So the bipartisan chasm comes off as enormous in the first congressional scorecard produced by End Citizens United, a liberal political action committee that's focused mainly on shrinking money's influence over politics. And the report, released this week, suggests only rare and subtle degrees of disapproval for the blue team on Capitol Hill in 2019 — and only a few areas for faint praise of the red team.

All members were rated on whether they accepted contributions from corporate PACs. The 432 current House members were also scored on how they voted on the floor four times — including of course on HR 1, the comprehensive political process overhaul passed in March — and how many of five measures important to the group they cosponsored. Since the Senate took no votes on legislation connected to democracy reform, the senators in office last year were rated only on a quartet of co-sponsorships.

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Big Picture

Civil rights groups sound alarm about a coming census undercount

Staffing cutbacks, poor planning and inadequate outreach by the federal government all threaten an undercount of minority group members, the poor and rural Americans in the coming census, leaders of civil rights groups are warning Congress.

After failing a decade ago to count more than 1.5 million African-Americans and Latinos, as well as 50,000 American Indians and Native Alaskans, the Census Bureau's planned reduction of local offices and field workers for the enumeration this spring has sparked fears that the 2020 undercount will be even more significant — and with lasting consequences.

Such inaccuracies could result in several congressional seats being given to the wrong states, and billions of dollars in federal aid being wrongly allocated for the next decade, the civil rights advocates told a House panel on Thursday.

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House Administration Committee

The CEOs of the three biggest voting machine makers beginning their testimony. From left: Tom Burt of Election Systems & Software, John Poulos of Dominion Voting Systems and Julie Mathis of Hart InterCivic.

Top three voting machine makers embrace more federal regulation

Here's something you don't see every day: Executives of three companies agreeing with the suggestion they should be under stronger oversight by Uncle Sam.

But that's exactly what happened Thursday, when representatives of the three companies that make more than 80 percent of the 350,000 voting machines used in the United States testified before Congress.

Just the appearance at one hearing by leaders of three competing businesses — Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Dominion Voting Systems of Denver and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas — was in itself historic. Even more unusual was their willingness to embrace tighter federal regulation and oversight ahead of the election, which could provide them with some government cover if the presidential contest is marred by hackers once again.

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