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Courtesy Millennial Action Project

MAP founder Steven Olikara (left) stepped down from the top job earlier this year. Layla Zaidane has been named the new CEO.

Millennial Action Project and its founder begin new chapters

Growing up in Milwaukee, Steven Olikara felt that playing music was the only way to bring people of all backgrounds and ideologies together — until he was inspired to launch the Millennial Action Project.

Believing the trend toward polarization had put American democracy on perilous footing, Olikara decided to translate his musical performances into political involvement on a national scale. In 2013, he officially launched MAP with the hopes that the next generation could bridge the political divide and put America on the right path forward.

Now, after nearly a decade at the helm, Olikara has stepped down as both he and the organization enter new chapters. On Wednesday, the organization announced as his successor Layla Zaidane, who previously served as MAP's executive director and COO. As for Olikara's next steps, the 31-year-old has his sights set on a potential Senate run next year when Republican Ron Johnson's seat is up for election.

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Report: Few Americans have a say in most congressional elections

Despite record-high turnout in last year's general election, a new report found that a majority of congressional elections in 2020 were determined by only a small number of voters due to the widely used partisan primary system.

Unite America, which released "The Primary Problem" on Tuesday, found that just 10 percent of voters cast ballots in primaries that ultimately decided the winners of 83 percent of House seats. These "safe" seats are in districts that are reliably retained by the same party in nearly every election, so the real competition is not in the general election but in the primary.

The resulting problem, the report concludes, is high re-election rates for members of Congress, even though most voters don't feel adequately represented by their elected officials or approve of the job they are doing. Unite America's solution: Adopt open and nonpartisan primaries.

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Google expands election security support to elected officials, political campaigns

Google announced Tuesday its plans to expand free election security services to elected officials and political campaigns across the country.

During the 2020 election cycle, the tech company, in collaboration with the nonprofit Defending Digital Campaigns, provided cybersecurity support to federal campaigns. Google's new 50-state venture builds on this by expanding services to eligible campaigns and political parties, committees and related organizations, as well as elected officials and their staff.

While election security concerns took a backseat in last year's election to the more pressing problems presented by the coronavirus pandemic, cybersecurity will remain a critical issue for campaigns in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms and beyond.

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North Carolina is estimated to have the biggest increase in independent voters by 2035, with a bump of 14 percentage points.

Share of independent voters is forecast to increase steadily

While American politics comes off like a death match between Democrats and Republicans, off camera more and more voters are choosing not to affiliate with either party — and those numbers look destined to grow.

The share of independent voters has trended upward in the past two decades, and this fall accounted for 36 percent of the electorate, according to Gallup. A report released Monday projects this unaffiliated population will continue growing over the next 15 years.

With the electorate continuing to move away from past loyalties to the red and blue teams, many democracy reform groups see the time as ripe to make the political system adapt to better represent and accommodate independents. The report was prepared by the Open Primaries Education Fund, which is aligned with one such group that advocates for policies weakening the red and blue duopoly.

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