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Silence on big-money bundlers bedevils watchdog groups

News

Silence on big-money bundlers bedevils watchdog groups

Sixteen of the nation's most prominent political reform groups have been pressing the presidential candidates for six months to be transparent about who's helping them stuff their campaign coffers. They're getting hardly anywhere.

The group put out another plea this week, urging all 19 Democrats remaining in the race, plus President Donald Trump and his three Republican challengers, to "implement a system to regularly and meaningfully disclose information" about their so-called bundlers.

These are the affluent, well-connected people who gather donations from others and deliver those funds in a "bundle" to their favorite candidate — and, if that person ends up in the White House, are very likely to be near the heads of the line for plum positions including ambassadorships and membership on policymaking boards.

The letter urged all the candidates to come clean and take the path of greater transparency when they file their campaign finance reports for the third quarter at the Federal Election Commission next week. But similar letters sent in April and June have produced next to no results.

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Police station as polling place eyed as a civil rights violation in Georgia

Should the police station be the only polling place in a town with a black majority population, a white majority municipal government and a recent history of racial tensions in law enforcement?

The city council of Jonesboro, a rapidly gentrifying but still poor suburb south of Atlanta, have said "yes." Civil rights groups say the proper answer is "no."

The council said its decision in September to hold this year's local elections in the police station is because the usual polling location, a museum, is being renovated and city hall isn't big enough. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and five other groups that promote civil and voting rights this week urged the city to reverse itself or face a potential lawsuit in November for violating the Voting Rights Act.

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Non-citizen voting advances in the biggest city in deep blue Vermont

Vermont's largest city is reviving a bid to permit non-citizens to vote in local elections, the latest in a small but persistent effort in some of the nation's most politically progressive corners to give immigrants the franchise.

The Burlington City Council vote this week was 10-2 in favor of changing the city's charter. The principal sponsor of the change, Democrat Adam Roof, told WCAX that the goal "is to create a more inclusive and engaged community, which is critical because we know that broad participation in the democratic process strengthens the entirety of the community."

Kurt Wright, a Republican, opposed the proposal as inconsistent with American tradition and noted the city's voters had rejected a similar effort several years ago.

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Debate

Three impeachment scenarios dangerous for democracy

R Street Institute's Kristen Nyman and Anthony Marcum explain three impeachment scenarios that ALL end with Trump being the 2020 Republican presidential nominee.

Community

Educate, Then Elect

How can you get the information you need on candidates and ballot issues to be an informed voter? A Vote Run Lead panel on Oct. 16 in Brooklyn will break down how you can get the knowledge you need to feel empowered to vote.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

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Ballot measures are good democracy — but only if you can understand them

Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.

This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.

In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.

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Balance of Power
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Two states asking Supreme Court for permission to regulate Electoral College conduct

Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.

The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.

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