Skip to content
Search

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Voters in Senate battlegrounds back early voting, adding pressure on GOP

Senate Republicans

Four of the GOP senators in states that were surveyed posed with their class at the Capitol soon after the 2012 election: Cory Gardner (blue tie), Joni Ernst (red jacket,) Thom Tillis (second from right) and Steve Daines (right).

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Bipartisan majorities want more options for voting this year, and will be angry at members of Congress who oppose expanded absentee and early balloting in all six states where Republican senators are struggling hardest for re-election.

That was the top take-away of a survey released Thursday, the latest piece of an expanding campaign by good-government groups to pressure Congress to finance preparations for a vote-by-mail surge this fall because of the coronavirus.

House Democrats next week are expected to pass another pandemic response package, focused on aid to cities and states, with $4 billion in grants for making the election smoother and safer: more ballots, postage, counting equipment and even sanitizing supplies for polling places. The fate of the aid rests with the Senate, where resistance from majority Republicans has hardened in part because of President Trump's opposition.


That is why an upstart progressive group, Democracy for All 2021 Action, surveyed 805 voters two weeks ago in states that are home to eight Republican senators, including the six who at the moment appear most at risk of losing this fall: Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

The sample sizes were too small to make the results from each state totally reliable, but they were nonetheless consistent:

Voters strongly agreed that in light of the pandemic, more voting options should be available so that people can cast their ballots without risking their health. And they would have an unfavorable view of their senators for opposing legislation that would make it easy to avoid exposure to Covid-19 by voting by mail or early and in person.

This feeling was strongest among voters leaning toward a Democratic Senate challenger (84 percent) and the undecideds who will decide any race that stays close (53 percent). But two-fifths of those for now favoring a GOP incumbent said they too would be annoyed.

"Voters across party lines in these Senate battleground states are sending a clear message that they want their senators to support legislation to ensure safe voting options," said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research, the Democratic firm that conducted the poll.

It was released by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who has made easing access to the voting booth during the pandemic a signature cause since her presidential bid ended, and Michael Steele, a former national Republican Party chairman who now runs the U.S. Vote Foundation, which promotes easing access to the ballot box.

"Making democracy work for everyone is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem — it's an American problem," he said.

Of the states polled, Colorado is the only one with an all vote-by-mail system in place. Arizona, Maine and North Carolina do not require an excuse to vote absentee — suggesting a surge in mail ballots is highly likely this fall. Neither does Montana, which has decided to send mail ballots to all registered voters.

A similar surge is expected in Iowa; every registered voter will receive an application to vote absentee in the June 2 primary. (What happens this fall is not yet decided.)

Because the process will be new to many Iowans, the Iowa Future Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of young members of the General Assembly, launched a campaign this week to promote it — another effort that, intentionally or not, will put pressure on Ernst to support such efforts as she seeks a second term against Democratic real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, who has surged in recent polls.

In the two videos, two Democrats and two Republicans, take turns explaining how the mail-in process works and encouraging voters to cast their ballots this way.

Because of the threats posed by the public health crisis, the legislators saw the issue as ripe for bipartisan collaboration, said Lani Bohm of the Millennial Action Project, a bipartisan group that promotes the careers of younger centrist politicians and fostered the campaign.

The young Iowans "feel confident in the legitimacy of this new election process," she said, and are "unified support for vote-by-mail during Covid-19, regardless of party."

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