Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

What if there's a primary Tuesday but nobody's worried? Ask Nebraska.

Don Bacon

Rep. Don Bacon of Omaha could face a rematch against progressive activist Kara Eastman, who is vying for the Democratic nomination.

Bill Clark/Getty Images

Nebraskans are heading to the polls Tuesday, as previously scheduled, for the first statewide primary in five weeks in which anyone may vote in person. This is news because the election has generated almost no news.

Already liberal vote-by-mail rules and the absence of hot contests, plus consistency and collaboration from the officials in charge, mean essentially no one is predicting anything close to another Wisconsin — where polling places were required to be opened wide and on time, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The most tangible difference this time is that the Republicans in charge of elections in Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts and Secretary of State Robert Evnen, decided back in March to break with past practice and send absentee ballot request forms to all 1.2 million registered voters — and urge people to fill out their applications. (Wisconsin's divided government could not agree on taking this initial step, and a subsequent blizzard of legal and political fighting kept voters confused until primary eve.)

As a result, the number of ballots cast by mail in the Nebraska primary has already surpassed total turnout in the last two primaries. The number of returned ballots exceeded 332,000 by the end of last week — 3 percent more than all the votes cast in 2016, when both presidential nominations were on the ballot, and 23 percent more than two years ago, when both parties were picking fresh candidates for governor.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

The volume of absentee ballots — five times the number of mailed-in forms four years ago — suggests a relatively small share of the total vote will be cast Tuesday, when many but not all polling places will be open. Nebraska is among just five states that never imposed a statewide stay-at-home order.

Instead, since nearly half a million people completed applications to vote absentee, the state may see a surge of people using the drop boxes available until polls close at 8 p.m.

Evnen anticipates as few as 25,000 people will vote in person. Those who do are asked to arrive wearing a mask — or else accept one from a supply available at each polling station. They will receive their own pens for marking their ballots. Those waiting to vote will have to stand the customary six feet apart, and the waits may be longer than expected because poll workers will disinfect the polling booths after each use.

The idea here, of course, is to minimize the risks of Covid-19 infection. At least 67 Wisconsinites have tested positive after voting in person or working at the polls April 7, although it's not clear how many were infected while exercising their civic duties or through a different means, the state Department of Health Services says.

With Joe Biden having wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination and GOP Sen. Ben Sasse facing only token opposition for re-election, the most important race in the state is for the Omaha congressional seat. Progressive activist Kara Eastman is favored over two primary competitors for the Democratic nomination, which would put her in a rematch against GOP Rep. Don Bacon. Nominees for half the seats in the Legislature, various municipal offices and some seats on state regulatory boards are also on the ballot.

Read More

Trump and Biden at the debate

Our political dysfunction was on display during the debate in the simple fact of the binary choice on stage: Trump vs Biden.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The debate, the political duopoly and the future of American democracy

Johnson is the executive director of the Election Reformers Network, a national nonpartisan organization advancing common-sense reforms to protect elections from polarization.

The talk is all about President Joe Biden’s recent debate performance, whether he’ll be replaced at the top of the ticket and what it all means for the very concerning likelihood of another Trump presidency. These are critical questions.

But Donald Trump is also a symptom of broader dysfunction in our political system. That dysfunction has two key sources: a toxic polarization that elevates cultural warfare over policymaking, and a set of rules that protects the major parties from competition and allows them too much control over elections. These rules entrench the major-party duopoly and preclude the emergence of any alternative political leadership, giving polarization in this country its increasingly existential character.

Keep ReadingShow less
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Voters should be able to take the measure of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., since he is poised to win millions of votes in November.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty Images

Kennedy should have been in the debate – and states need ranked voting

Richie is co-founder and senior advisor of FairVote.

CNN’s presidential debate coincided with a fresh batch of swing-state snapshots that make one thing perfectly clear: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be a longshot to be our 47th president and faces his own controversies, yet the 10 percent he’s often achieving in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and other battlegrounds could easily tilt the presidency.

Why did CNN keep him out with impossible-to-meet requirements? The performances, mistruths and misstatements by Joe Biden and Donald Trump would have shocked Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who managed to debate seven times without any discussion of golf handicaps — a subject better fit for a “Grumpy Old Men” outtake than one of the year’s two scheduled debates.

Keep ReadingShow less
I Voted stickers

Veterans for All Voters advocates for election reforms that enable more people to participate in primaries.

BackyardProduction/Getty Images

Veterans are working to make democracy more representative

Proctor, a Navy veteran, is a volunteer with Veterans for All Voters.

Imagine this: A general election with no negative campaigning and four or five viable candidates (regardless of party affiliation) competing based on their own personal ideas and actions — not simply their level of obstruction or how well they demonize their opponents. In this reformed election process, the candidate with the best ideas and the broadest appeal will win. The result: The exhausted majority will finally be well-represented again.

Keep ReadingShow less
Person voting at a dropbox in Washington, D.C.

A bill moving through Congress would only allow U.S. citizens to vote in D.C. municipal eletions.

Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The battle over noncitizen voting in America's capital

Rogers is the “data wrangler” at BillTrack50. He previously worked on policy in several government departments.

Should you be allowed to vote if you aren’t an American citizen? Or according to the adage ‘No taxation without representation’, if you pay taxes should you get to choose the representatives who help spend those tax dollars? Those questions are at the heart of the debate over a bill to restrict voting to U.S. citizens.

Keep ReadingShow less
people walking through a polling place

Election workers monitor a little-used polling place in Sandy Springs, Ga., during the state's 2022 primary.

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

What November election? Half of the U.S. House is already decided.

Troiano is the executive director ofUnite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform to foster a more representative and functional government. He’s also the author of “The Primary Solution.”

Last month, Americans were treated to an embarrassing spectacle: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) tradingpersonal insults related to “fake eyelashes” and a “bleach blonde bad built butch body” during a late-night committee hearing. Some likened it to Bravo’s “Real Housewives” reality TV series, and wondered how it was possible that elected officials could act that way and still be elected to Congress by the voters.

The truth is, the vast majority of us don’t actually elect our House members — not even close. Less than 10 percent of voters in Crockett’s district participated in her 2024 Democratic primary, which all but guaranteed her re-election in the safe blue district. Greene ran unopposed in her GOP primary — meaning she was re-elected without needing to win a single vote. The nearly 600,000 voters in her overwhelmingly red district were denied any meaningful choice. Both contests were decided well before most voters participate in the general election.

Keep ReadingShow less