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Can't argue with science: An MIT study supports unrigging elections

Griffiths is a contributor to Independent Voter News.

The beginning of the 2020 presidential election was an unmitigated disaster. Results that should have been reported the night of the Iowa caucuses instead took days as a result of technical issues with an app and inconsistent numbers being reported. Politicos were baffled while accusations of a rigged process arose after the candidate with the most votes didn't leave with the most delegates.

At the center of the controversy was independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, and suddenly the question became whether or not we would witness a repeat of 2016. Was the party once again trying to sabotage the Sanders campaign? Are we looking at yet another rigged 2016 presidential primary process?

Many Sanders supporters took to the Internet to cry foul, while Sanders called the caucuses an "embarrassment" and a "disgrace."

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Ranked-choice voting will now be used in the 2021 elections for mayor and city council in New York.

Ranked-choice voting backers eye momentum from NYC victory

Ranked-choice voting just made it big in the biggest town for making it — New York City. And supporters of this way of conducting elections hope to use the victory there to spread it, well, everywhere.

With more than 90 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday morning, almost three-quarters of voters (73.5 percent) endorsed bringing ranked-choice voting to the nation's biggest city. The new system, which allows people to rank as many as five candidates in order of preference, will be used in primary and special elections beginning with the races in 2021 for mayor, city council and several other municipal offices.

Known as RCV and also the instant-runoff system, ranking candidates has become one of the big election-improvement darlings of the democracy reform movement.

Less sweeping measures for improving governance were on ballots in Maine, Kansas and Denver, and all of them succeeded.

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Supreme Court lets stand a ban on corporate contributions to candidates

The Supreme Court has turned down an opportunity to permit businesses to donate directly to candidates, deviating from a stretch of decisions expanding the "money is free speech" rights of corporate America.

As is routine, the justices made no statement Monday explaining why they decided against hearing the appeal of two family-owned businesses in Massachusetts that challenged the state's prohibition on for-profit companies making campaign donations.

They asked the court to reverse its 2003 decision allowing limits on corporate contributions to candidates, which would have been a significant expansion of the deregulation of campaign financing set in the Citizens United decision nine years ago. That landmark ruling declared that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts on elections so long as money is allocated independently from the candidates.

The two suburban Boston companies, a chain of auto parts stores and a self-storage outfit, were represented by the libertarian Goldwater Institute. They argued the state ban on donations from for-profit corporations to candidates and political committees violated the First Amendment free-speech rights of businesses and the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law, because the restrictions on businesses' political activity are more stringent than for nonprofit corporations and unions.

All federal candidates are barred from accepting donations directly from corporations, and 22 states also ban corporate contributions to candidates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oregon, Boston suburb move toward teen voting

Campaigns to give 16-year-olds some voting rights were launched this week on both coasts.

The lopsidedly Democratic Oregon Legislature began moving a bill that would have voters decide in 2020 whether to lower the voting age by two years for all state and local elections. The main suspense looks to be whether the proposal will be extended to federal contests as well.

And the mayor of Somerville, a suburb of Boston, asked the city council to join him in seeking permission from the state to alter the municipal voting age.

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