Thursday's Democracy Dispatches
Here are some stories we're following from across the country:
Ranked-choice voting moved one step closer to appearing as a referendum on the 2020 ballot in Massachusetts. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Advocates for a pair of election initiatives in Portland, Maine — one to expand the use of ranked-choice voting in city elections and the other to establish a public financing system for local elections — failed to get either on the November ballot. (Portland Press Herald)
A new group is trying to curtail the waiting period for ex-convicts to regain the right to vote in Wisconsin. (Journal Sentinel)
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Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.
"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."