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RIP, anti-gerrymandering crusader Ellen Tauscher

Ellen Tauscher, who died Monday at age 67, had been a political survivor in more ways than one: She succeeded in negotiating major international nuclear arms treaties for the Obama administration even while battling esophageal cancer. Before that she regularly found ways to wield influence in Congress despite publicly opposing the most powerful fellow Democrat in the California delegation, Nancy Pelosi. And she won seven House terms representing suburban tracts east of San Francisco despite several GOP efforts to get rid of her.

It was that experience that prompted the last public service effort of Tauscher's life – creation of You Draw the Lines 2021, a non-profit advocating for the creation of independent, nonpartisan commissions to draw all the congressional boundaries in the nation. She described the partisan-driven redistricting of the House as nothing short of as "constitutional crisis."

The Founding Fathers "did not foresee that it would be possible to create congressional districts and assign them to parties where the person in the seat is fungible and the party owns that seat for 10 years during the time between redistrictings," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2015. "That's why I think you have such tremendous voter apathy, why you have people believe their vote doesn't matter and the sense that it's all rigged."

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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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