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Two annual report cards out this week offer some sobering context for those who might instinctively believe that the United States is the best democracy in the world.

Low scores for U.S. government in two global scorecards

When it comes to democracy, sometimes Americans believe they not only invented the idea, they perfected it.

But two respected annual report cards out this week — one looking at democracy and the other at its anathema, governmental corruption — offer some sobering context for those who might instinctively believe that the United States is going to be naturally at the top of the heap.

The latest corruption study, by the venerable global watchdog group Transparency International, finds trust in the United States' political system at an all-time low and that government corruption has become a major concern for most Americans. The newest report on the state of global democracy by the Economist finds the United States dropping steadily in the last decade when compared with other countries.

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"The only way to reclaim our democracy and create a political system that is truly of the people, by the people and for the people is by getting big money out of politics," argues Devin Hiett.

To engage young Americans in politics, we must end Citizens United

Hiett graduated in December 2019 with degrees in international studies and journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She is a volunteer at American Promise, which advocates for amending the Constitution to regulate the raising and spending of electoral campaign funds.

Younger generations are often berated for not turning out to vote at meaningful rates, and that criticism is not totally unwarranted. In the 2016 presidential race, people between 18 and 29 made up just 13 percent of the electorate. But rather than chastising Millennials and Gen Z for not voting, we need to focus on why they aren't showing up at the polls.

Ten years after one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever, the real answer should have become abundantly clear.

In the 2018 elections alone, special-interest spending exceeded $5.7 billion. The fossil fuel industry has invested more than $2 billion in the past two decades slandering sustainable climate legislation, and the National Rifle Association has spent more than $203 million on political activities since 1998. In comparison, only half of 1 percent of Americans donate more than $10,000 in any election.

The idea that young people don't vote because they are apathetic is a fallacy. Throughout history, many of the most influential activist movements around the world have been led by young people, and this momentum has accelerated in recent years.

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"In this state alone, more than 1,000 campaign events have been hosted by the Democratic field, which is down to a dozen now but once numbered more than twice that," writes Kevin Bowe.

On the trail in New Hampshire, Democrats seem caught in the middle on democracy reform

Bowe, a freelance producer in New Hampshire covering the Democratic primary for Public News Service, is working on a documentary series about democracy reform. His last film, "Democracy Through the Looking Glass," examined media coverage of the 2016 campaign.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Given another wave of myopic media coverage of our national conversation that is a presidential campaign, even political news junkies may be forgiven for only being aware of the horse-race poll numbers here and in Iowa.

In this state alone, more than 1,000 campaign events have been hosted by the Democratic field, which is down to a dozen now but once numbered more than twice that. Sure, health care and climate change are dominating the conversations. But after covering about 150 of these events I'm convinced that, when taken together, all the different anxieties about what's made our democracy dysfunctional are rivaling those top two concerns.

But a cacophony has been created by the sheer volume of concerns expressed — about difficulties accessing the ballot box, outright voter suppression, the fairness of the Electoral College, money's influence over politics and partisan gerrymandering, to name a few — along with the dizzying number of candidates and their various positions.

The result: There's no sense of consensus in the field about what should be on a coherent agenda of reform, except that it should start with enactment of HR 1, the comprehensive political process and ethics bill passed by the Democratic House last year and then buried in the Republican Senate.

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Broad remake of voting procedures nationwide urged by bipartisan panel

All states should adopt automatic voter registration, expand mail-in voting and implement new auditing practices to assure the accuracy of vote counts, a bipartisan panel of election administrators proposed Thursday.

A 57-page report released by the Bipartisan Policy Center, which convened a task force of officials to come up with ideas, offers 21 recommendations that cover all aspects of elections, from registration to casting and certifying ballots.

The recommendations, adopted unanimously by the nearly two dozen local and state election administrators from across the country, are intended to provide a roadmap for state legislatures to follow, said Matthew Weil, director of the BPC's effort. Lawmakers are convening in most state capitals this month for their annual sessions, so there is still time for election overhauls to be put in place before the November presidential election.

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