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.
Americans are demanding democratic reform after the string of government scandals, election day disasters and questionable results that have plagued our elections since 2000. With polls showing that the majority of Americans little or no trust in government, progressive state leaders are realizing that we can no longer ignore or tolerate the significant democracy deficit that undermines our ability to meet our challenges in all areas of progressive reform.
Voters want leaders who stand up to monied interests. Candidates dependent on corporate benefactors can’t fully serve their constituents and invariably become hostages to or outright defenders of a dysfunctional status quo. Voters are frustrated that on issues ranging from healthcare to education to transportation to energy, the changes we need are stymied by a political system soaked in corporate cash. Progressive leaders can distinguish themselves, not just by rising above the political swamp to secure good policies for their constituents, but also by actively working to drain the swamp of corporate lobbying and campaign contributions so that the political process functions fairly and without favor.
Election reforms also support the broader progressive policy
agenda.One of the largest
impediments to real progressive reform is that our election system often
excludes voters — non-white, less-educated, and less wealthy individuals —
who are the most supportive of progressive policy changes.Expanding electoral participation to
include a larger, more diverse set of voters will increase support for the host
of progressive reforms that are supported by the substantial majority of the
population, but whose voices are not always heard at the ballot box.Working state by state to remove
barriers to voting and increase participation in the political process
will be a fundamental determinant of how successful progressives will be in
achieving the broader reforms we are working toward.
Voters are clearly eager for change.We have arrived at a moment where the
need to invigorate our democracy and establish clear accountability has become
overwhelmingly obvious to a large number of Americans.Americans' demands for change in the
face of the epic failures of rightwing policy are ushering in a new progressive
era in our nation. How far this transition goes and how long it lasts
will be determined in large part by how well progressives use this opportunity
to expand the vote. However, progressive leaders need to be vigilant in
fighting off right wing attempts to erode the right to vote, since we are
seeing renewed efforts to undermine voter rights and suppress turnout through
new barriers to voting and outright intimidation.
Progressive States Network’s
Clean and Fair Elections Program:This policy guide presents a series of election and governance reforms
that are essential to both invigorating our democracy and achieving other
Making Every Vote Count:We must also ensure every vote counts
and every voice is heard.This
includes both securing the integrity of elections, and making sure that systems
aren't rigged to prevent meaningful participation, such as establishing a National Popular Vote for president.