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Balance of Power
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The 8 states where the pandemic has shifted the balance of power

Over the past year, states have issued hundreds of rule changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, covering issues from public health and safety to business protocols to election procedures.

But one consequence of some of these emergency orders has been a shift in the balance of power at the state level. Ballotpedia reported Thursday that eight states have seen the governor's authority weakened by Covid-related legislation.

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Republican lawmakers say New Hampshire's rules are "adequate."

New Hampshire Republicans stop no-excuse absentee voting

Republican lawmakers have turned back efforts to make no-excuse absentee voting a permanent fixture in New Hampshire.

On Thursday, the GOP-led state Senate voted along party lines to reject a bill that would have eliminated the excuse requirement to vote by mail.

During the 2020 election, all 1.1 million New Hampshire voters were able to request an absentee ballot due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Democratic lawmakers had hoped to make voting by mail a fixed option in future voting.

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Report: U.S. contributes to ongoing decline of freedom worldwide

More bad news for democracy defenders: A new report confirms worldwide declines in freedom for the 15th year in a row, and the United States isn't helping matters.

Freedom House, a nonpartisan research organization, on Wednesday released its annual report, Freedom in the World, detailing how global democracy was further weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, economic and physical insecurities and violent conflict. While the United States is still considered "free," the country's score has continued to decline over the last decade, dropping 3 points in 2020 alone.

Countries were graded based on the political rights and civil liberties enjoyed by their populace, rather than government performance. This report is the latest in a series of studies calling attention to global issues involving democracy and corruption.

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Election integrity experts are urging President Biden to issue an executive order to create a commission to restore trust in elections.

Biden urged to create commission on trust in democracy

At a time when democracy feels most fragile, in the wake of a divisive election fueled by disinformation and an insurrection at the Capitol, two good-government groups have a new proposal for restoring trust in democracy.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy and the Center for Democracy and Technology released a report Tuesday urging President Biden to establish a bipartisan commission dedicated to restoring the public's trust in elections and democracy. It would build off work done by a similar election commission created in 2013 under President Barack Obama.

Ideally the Biden administration would form this new commission as soon as possible so its members could make recommendations ahead of the 2022 midterms. The report suggests allowing at least six months for the commission to collect its findings, although more time may be needed given the Covid-19 pandemic.

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