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Where the presidential candidates stand on the top issues of democracy reform

This story has been revised after additional reporting.

Steadily if still softly, anxiety about the health of American democracy has become at least a secondary theme in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Proposals for restoring the public's faith in elections, and a sense of fairness in our governing system, have now earned a place on most of the candidates' platforms. And more and more of them have been including calls for democracy reform in their stump speeches.

To be sure, the topic has not come close to the top tier of issues driving the opening stages of the campaign. In the first round of candidate debates last month, for example, the contenders collectively spent less time talking about democracy's ills than eight other issues: health care, President Trump's record, immigration, social policy, economic inequality, gun control, foreign policy and the environment.

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Putnam County Supervisor of Elections

Sample ballot from the 2018 general election.

Florida's latest fair elections imbroglio concerns party names on the ballot

Does the order in which the names of the two major political parties appear on the ballot effectively discount the votes of half of Florida's electorate? That's the question at the heart of the latest in the long list of legal fights over election fairness in the nation's most populous purple state.

The dispute is being heard in a trial this week before Judge Mark Walker, the chief jurist at the federal district courthouse in Tallahassee. Walker has become the pivotal figure in several voting rights lawsuits that could tip the state off its partisan razor's edge.

Florida last fall reaffirmed its status as the biggest electoral prize in the country that both Republicans and Democrats can realistically hope to win, when the GOP held on to the governor's mansion by four tenths of 1 percent of the vote and claimed a Senate seat by an even closer margin.

The Democratic Party and progressive groups are working on several fronts to tilt things their way in time for 2020, when winning the state's 29 electoral votes will be central to the strategies of both President Trump and his challenger.

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A new election law in Florida will require local election supervisors to only select locations with ample parking for early voters.

Florida to require easy parking for early voters; opponents see suppression

Early voting in Florida would be confined to neighborhoods with ample parking, under a package of election law changes that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says he'll sign soon.

The measure's GOP sponsors in the state legislature say their aim is to avoid some of the long lines and logistical frustration that many early voters complained about. Democratic opponents and civil rights groups say the real aim is to make it more difficult to vote ahead of Election Day on college campuses, where the electorate skews Democratic.

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No early voting in Connecticut anytime soon

A measure to bring early voting to Connecticut, one of just 11 states where the balloting only occurs on Election Day, came up four votes short in the state Senate.

The proposal would have asked the voters next year to approve a state constitutional amendment to permit early voting, with the legislature deciding the details after that. Now, the earliest proponents will be able to try again is in two years, to get a measure on the ballot in 2022 that might lead to early voting two presidential elections from now.

Early voting has consistently boosted turnout because it helps the physically disabled, parents without child care and workers with unpredictable schedules get to the polls.

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