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Clean and Fair Elections

Overview

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 progressive goals.