The Democracy Program collaborates with grassroots groups, advocacy organizations
and reform-minded government officials to change the ways in which citizens
participate in their government by fixing the systems that discourage
voting, hinder competition and promote the interests of the few over
the rights of the many. The Center advances these goals using tools of research, policy
analysis and publications, media outreach and public education,
legislative counseling and advocacy and legal action.
Several battleground states are not prepared to meet the challenge
of administering the general election on November 4th, where turnout
will be unprecedented, According to a report conducted by Advancement Project, a national leading voter protection organization.
assess, and help ensure, the nation’s readiness for the November
general election, Advancement Project obtained public records and other
public information on the allocation, at the precinct level, of voting
machines (or, in the case of jurisdictions that use optical scan
machines, voting privacy booths) and poll workers in the following
states: Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Last month I published a story about new statewide voter registration databases
and how federal rules governing how states must use the databases could
disenfranchise thousands of new voters who have registered to vote for
the first time since the law went into effect in 2004.
The story got a bit lost in all of the hoopla over the Sarah Palin
e-mail hacker so I wanted to draw your attention to the piece again and
add information about how the new federal rules are making it easy for
political parties in some states to challenge the eligibility of voters
to cast a ballot, seemingly in an effort to suppress their votes.
I also wanted to discuss a separate issue involving purges of existing
voters from registration lists, which is affecting thousands of
long-time voters in states across the country who may be surprised when
they arrive at polls in November to find that their name has been
inexplicably stricken from their state's voter roll. I'll discuss the
issue of challenging eligibility in a post labeled Part II and will
address the purges in Part III.
In a lively, sometimes contentious, conference at MIT on the problems
and merits of the Electoral College, a group of scholars looked into
what one called the "fun house mirror of electoral politics" and
debated its reflections of federalism, states' rights and equality.
We urge Iowa and other states to sign onto the plan so that by the next
presidential election, every vote will be counted, and every state will
matter in what we hope will be a truly nationwide campaign.
Direct democracy through popular intiatives and referenda began a
century ago as a grassroots, progressive reform aimed at circumventing
corrupt legislatures and increasing civic involvement. The long history of this reform
indicates that in the whole this experiment in direct popular
participation in the legislative process has been successful as an
avenue for passing populist policies that maintains the favor of
the public over time. However, throughout this history there have
also been attempts, sometimes successful, to manipulate the process and
the electorate into passing legislation that would not garner majority
support had voters possessed an accurate conception of its content and