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.
Minnesota's limit on the amount of help one person may give to others in casting their ballots violates federal law and the state's constitution, the latest Democratic voting rights lawsuit alleges.
The litigation was announced Thursday by the party's House and Senate campaign committees. They filed it last week against the state's top elections official, Secretary of State Steve Simon, a fellow Democrat.
The suit joins more than a dozen others already filed in the early stages of the 2020 campaign by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, part of an eight-figure attack on state laws they view as attempts to suppress turnout by black people and other minorities or to give Republicans some other political advantage.
An uphill drive is being revived to make casting a ballot easier in Alabama, which has been at the center of the struggle for voting rights in the United States for more than half a century.
Thomas Jackson, one of the longest serving Democrats in Montgomery, is already gathering support for bills to permit absentee voting without an excuse as well as mandate early voting in every county in the state, one of the few places where neither provision is on the books.
He'll introduce the bills when the Legislature convenes in two weeks. But he's proposed them before and they've never received so much as a committee vote in the lopsided Republican legislature. And Alabama's top elections official, GOP Secretary of State John Merrill, says he's confident both measures will die again this year.
Progressive groups in Ohio formally launched their effort Wednesday to put before the voters an amendment to the state constitution making voting easier on several fronts.
If ultimately successful, the package would be counted on to boost turnout in one of the nation's most populous political bellwethers starting in 2022.
But first, a coalition of mostly left-leaning groups called Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections, spearheaded by the state's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, must collect 443,000 valid signatures by July on a petition asking for the referendum.
"The comparisons between these countries and the United States today should be alarming to all of us, as the similarities are striking. An instruction manual exists on how to destroy the rule of law," argues Mark Botsford, who lived in Latin America for more than 30 years.
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