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'Best of the Rest:' Democracy Madness reaches the draw's final quarter

Over the past six week, readers of The Fulcrum have selected their top voting rights, election administration and money in politics reforms. Now it's time to kick off the final "region" in our Democracy Madness tournament.

We're calling it the "Best of the Rest," and we're inviting you to vote on a final group of 16 ideas for fixing the problems with our democracy's fairness and functionality. They range from proposals for enhancing election security to bolstering government ethics rules, and from the promotion of civic education to statehood for Washington, D.C.

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Specific federal funding levels that lawmakers arrange for projects or activities to benefit people, institutions or locations they represent. Congress has sworn-off the practice since 2011. The term comes from a means of branding hogs, and earmarks are often derisively called "pork" or "pork-barrel spending."

Read more about earmarks.

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