Sara Swann is a staff writer covering campaign finance and other reform issues. She previously reported on local and state government for The Daily Times on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She has also done money in politics reporting for the Center for Responsive Politics. Sara is an alumna of Syracuse University.
Democrats are making two fresh runs at expanding the voting rights of felons, but they face probably insurmountable odds in the Republican legislatures of both Georgia and Missouri.
In Atlanta and Jefferson City, Democrats are pushing legislation this month that would restore the franchise to people convicted of nonviolent crimes as soon as they're released from prison. But GOP majorities are insisting on sticking with the more restrictive status quo in both places.
Enfranchising the formerly incarcerated, who are disproportionately poor and non-white, has become a top priority of civil rights groups. But critics say a convict's debts to society should not be so easy to pay off. Partisan politics infuses the disagreement, because ex-felons are a reliably Democratic voting bloc.
College students represent a crucial voting bloc in the election, but for many young people voting isn't readily accessible.
A group of organizations promoting youth voting is partnering with MTV to change that. Launched last week, +1 the Polls is a first-of-its-kind campaign that aims to ease voting for students by establishing new polling locations on college campuses across the country.
The 2018 midterm election saw a massive increase in voter turnout from college students: More than 40 percent of them voted, double what happened in the midterm four years before. Expectations for youth turnout are similar, if not higher, for this year's presidential election — especially since Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, boosted by significant support from younger voters, has surged forward as the Democratic front-runner.
The debate over gerrymandering often focuses on what partisan mapmaking means for election outcomes. But that's just the means to a policy-making end. A liberal think tank has just released its second report demonstrating how gerrymandering impacts legislative decisions, this time focusing on Medicaid.
A study released Monday by the Center for American Progress details the impacts gerrymandering has had on how states determine Medicaid eligibility. CAP found that despite significant bipartisan support for Medicaid nationwide, states with Republican-controlled legislatures were more likely to limit access to the government-subsidized health insurance.
CAP is part of a growing movement advocating for a change in the way congressional and state legislative district maps have traditionally been drawn. Rather than have state lawmakers decide, redistricting reform groups say, independent commissions should have the mapmaking authority.
"A fair process for drawing districts is fundamental to democracy, helping to ensure that voters' voices are heard on critical issues such as access to health care," the report states.