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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a trio of democracy reform bills this week.

California governor signs three political reform bills

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.

The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.

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Gov. Ralph Northam used his executive authority to restore voting rights for felons, noting that Virginia is among the states that permanently strips such rights after a felony conviction.

Virginia governor restores voting rights to over 22,000 felons

More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.

In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.

Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.

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Big Picture
Suhas Subramanyam and Rodney Willett

Reform-first candidates Suhas Subramanyam (left) and Rodney Willett are running in safely Democratic Virginia House districts.

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

With elections for every seat in Virginia's Legislature 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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Burlington would join Montpelier as the second Vermont city that wants to allow non-citizens to vote.

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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