There has been a surge in legislation to ease access to the polls during the early days of state legislative sessions across the country.
The New York University School of Law's Brennan Centercounts at least 230 bills that have been filed or pre-filed at state capitals since the midterm election – with bipartisan efforts to place automatic voter registration, vote-by-mail, same-day registration or the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons on the legislative agendas in 31 states.
These bills stand a chance of enactment not only in Democratic strongholds but also a handful of generally Republican states, including Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas.
Bills to increase voter access have far outpaced those written in the name of boosting election integrity. The Brennan Center counts just 24 measures, such as those to require voter ID, proof of citizenship at the polls or limiting early voting.
Stateline, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts focused on trends in state policymaking, quotes the Brennan Center's Max Feldman as saying that even if the Republican Senate never takes up HR 1 (the House Democrats' sweeping "good government" legislation) that ambitious bill has nonetheless succeeded in setting a tone for state lawmakers to push big voting changes. "State lawmakers were paying attention," he said.
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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.
Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?
To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."
The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.
The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.
Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.
While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."