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House candidate Morgan Harper, whose bid to oust Democratic incumbent Joyce Beatty (in glasses) faded after the Ohio primary was delayed.

Delaying primaries is helping protect incumbents as well as voters

Boatright is a political science professor at Clark University.
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Democracy Madness: Top-seeded 'best of the rest' dominate the last Elite Eight

The top seven seeds have all made it through to the Elite Eight round in the "Best of the Rest" division of Democracy Madness — our tournament where readers are deciding which of 64 ideas for fixing the government they want most.

The only minor upset in the opening round of our final quarter: The notion of conducting more extensive audits of election results, our ninth seed, barely snuck past the idea of creating federal standards for all voting machines, slotted eighth.

Now it's time to whittle it down to four. The voting lasts until Sunday night.

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A party-line vote in the Republican Senate put conservative Texas attorney Trey Trainor on the Federal Election Commission.

Campaign watchdog agency can reopen — but has no new ability to function

After 262 days in limbo, the Federal Election Commission can operate again. But a toxic mix of partisanship and the agency's own rules provides little hope the campaign finance regulator will soon function.

The doors can symbolically reopen because the Senate voted Tuesday, 49-43 along party lines, to confirm conservative Texas attorney Trey Trainor as a commissioner — ending the longest period ever when the panel lacked the four-person quorum required to conduct business.

But it also takes four votes to do anything consequential. And the even partisan split Trainor creates means the FEC is returning to its life for the past decade — at an impasse on almost every question about enforcing the limited laws of money in politics. The persistent deadlock is one of the main reasons the campaign finance system is derided by critics as out of control.

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