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How not to let this virus threaten our democracy: Invest in young voters.

Barba is senior director of external affairs for Young Invincibles, which works to magnify the impact younger voters are having on the political process and expand their economic opportunities.
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Maricopa County, Ariz., saw voter turnout increase by 42 percent from 2014 to 2018, thanks at least in part to reforms put in place by the elections chief, Adrian Fontes.

Why local election administrators are key to ensuring all voters may participate in democracy

Fontes, a Democrat, was first elected in 2016 as the Maricopa County recorder, the chief elections official for Arizona's most populous county.

Due to the coronavirus, many states that have held their presidential primaries on schedule this year experienced a decrease in turnout, chaos and confusion. As we know, the integrity and inclusiveness of our elections depends on a well-run election system — which is exactly why Maricopa County saw an increase in turnout when Arizonans cast their ballots three weeks ago.

On every Election Day, Americans eagerly tune into the news the moment the polls close, expecting decisive conclusions about the future of their country. But these flashy headlines don't often capture the rubber-meets-road work of democracy unfolding on the ground: the science of election administration.

As the head election official for Phoenix and its closest suburbs, I know this better than most. Reading the news makes elections seem simple. However, in a nation as huge and diverse as ours, administering these contests is incredibly complicated. And as we've seen so far this year — from the long Super Tuesday voting lines in Texas and California to the muddled caucus results in Iowa — each jurisdiction faces unique challenges.

That's where election administrators come in.

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"What we've seen in Seattle and the state is that there is no quick fix to Citizens United," writes Cindy Black. "Instead, a holistic approach is needed."

With democracy reform stalled on Capitol Hill, local and state solutions needed

Black is executive director of Seattle-based Fix Democracy First, which advocates for campaign finance, election access and voting rights reforms.

While important democratic reforms continue to stall in the Senate, activists in some states and municipalities are showing there's another way.

In Washington state, we've created a blueprint to rein in money in politics that can work elsewhere.

We've shown that a combination of public financing of elections, increasing access to the ballot, requiring nonprofits to disclose their top donors and coming up with creative ways to restrict the flow of corporate cash into politics can go a long way in returning government to the people.

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