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Bloc of Virginia candidates pushing democracy reform as a blue wave generator

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Bloc of Virginia candidates pushing democracy reform as a blue wave generator

With elections for every seat in Virginia's Legislature less less than four weeks away, a coalition of progressive candidates is hoping to sway voters with the promise to push democracy reform.

In a letter being sent Thursday to every member of the General Assembly, 32 Democrats vying in November — about half with a realistic hope of winning — underscored their commitment to advancing an array of campaign finance and voting rights proposals if they get elected.

"We write to you today to put Richmond on notice. We are determined to reform the broken system and spark a restoration of confidence should we be granted the honor of serving our respective districts," they wrote.

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Not news to many: Our polarized view of news brands is only intensifying

Nike has Colin Kaepernick. Smith & Wesson has guns. Trump Hotels has, well, President Trump.

Not surprisingly, each of these companies is among the most politically polarizing brands of the moment. But the best way to make such a list, it turns out, is to be in the news business.

Of the 15 most polarizing brands of 2019, the dozen not mentioned above are from a single industry — the mainstream media — according to a recent survey by Morning Consult, a brand development and news company. The rankings were determined by measuring the difference in favorability of more than 3,700 brands among self-identified Republicans and Democrats.

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The revolving door has been spinning real fast

At least 176 former members of Congress have become lobbyists or taken some other role trying to influence their former colleagues and other parts of the federal government since 2011, according to a report by OpenSecrets issued Thursday.

OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics, found that the use of the revolving door between Congress and the private sector was about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

But the lawmakers who left the Capitol at the end of last year and moved quickly into the influence industry are mostly in the GOP. That's mainly because the wave of departures, either voluntary or forced by the voters, was disproportionately Republican following the Democratic gains in the 2018 midterm election.

Most of these former members were hired by K Street lobbying firms or major law firms, the report found. Squire Patton Boggs and Akin Gump each have hired five former members since the 111th Congress ended in 2010.

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Debate

Making government more responsive is a task for Americans of all stripes

Every American has a place, and a responsibility, to fight for "a government of, by, and for the people," says Katie Fahey, grassroots organizer and executive director of The People.

Community

Accelerator Awards

Get $25,000 in seed funding for your initiative making impactful and viable political reform, courtesy of Unite America, RepresentUs and the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers. The awards are prioritizing local and state campaigns that advance key structural political reforms like ranked-choice voting, redistricting, open primaries and vote by mail.

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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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