Stories and Statistics: How Citizens Demand Accountability for Healthcare

This post explores the surprising ways 100 Indonesian communities are holding their government officials and healthcare providers accountable. This is the second post in the “Stories and Stats” blog series, which shares exciting quantitative trends from the Transparency for Development (T4D) Project, and digs into the stories behind the numbers. Read more from the T4D Project here. This post was originally published on the Results for Development blog.

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Pence-Kobach Voter Fraud Commission Gets Fast Thumbs Down

Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar

Ash Center Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy Miles Rapoport proposes a long-term strategy in response to the many attacks on voter rights, which is currently culminating in Trump’s Kobach Commission on voter fraud. This article is part of the American Prospect series, where we post Miles’ biweekly column in the American Prospect on democracy issues. Read other posts in the series here. 

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Protecting the Right to Vote in Trump’s America

©CC Michael Fleshman

MPP’18 candidate Seth Nelson takes stock of the state of voting rights. What can we do to ensure the work of Dr. King and countless others is not undermined by an administration that casts doubt on the integrity of our voting system and by legislatures seeking to limit suffrage through discriminatory voter laws? Read this post to find out.

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What’s the Verdict on Direct Democracy?: Lessons from Latin America

OTTO DETTMER/THE ECONOMIST

This is the first of two posts by HKS MPP’18 James Pagano exploring the promises and pitfalls of direct democracy—and how it might be used in the United States. In this post, James draws lessons from direct democracy efforts in Latin America that can be used to inform such initiatives in the United States.

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What’s Your “Deep Story?”

When Professor Emerita at UC Berkeley Arlie Hochschild came to speak at the JFK Forum in March, she sparked a conversation around the idea of “deep stories” – the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and the values we share. In this post, Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow LaGina Gause offers a “deep story” that she feels might resonate with liberals more than the one described by Hochschild. If you have an alternate “deep story,” we invite you to share with us in the comments below.

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Conservative Call for Constitutional Convention Faces Setbacks

Ash Center Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy Miles Rapoport weighs in on the progress (and setbacks) of the conservative movement in their call for a constitutional convention. This is the third article in the American Prospect series, where we post Miles’ biweekly column in the American Prospect on democracy issues. Read other posts in the series here. 

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Stories and Statistics: How Qualitative Methods Help us Read Between the Numbers

This is the first post in the “Stories and Stats” blog series, which will share some exciting quantitative trends from the Transparency for Development (T4D) Project, and will dig into the stories behind the numbers. This post shares stories from T4D communities in Indonesia that demonstrate the importance of leaving room for local knowledge and creativity in international development projects. Read more from the T4D Project here. This post was originally published on the Results for Development blog.

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When Rebels Take Power: Q&A with Kai Thaler

This post is the second in our Democracy Fellows Spotlight series. Kai Thaler, one of the Ash Center’s Democracy Doctoral Fellows, is a fifth year graduate student and a PhD candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Thaler’s dissertation examines how rebel organizational characteristics affect the type and scope of state building and public service provision by rebel movements if they succeed in capturing the central state or seceding. Read other posts in this series here.

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2016 Election Turnout: What You Should Know

Ash Center Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy Miles Rapoport shares important take-aways from “America Goes to the Polls,” the first 2016 election turnout report released by the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida and Nonprofit VOTE. This is the second article in the American Prospect series, where we post Miles’ biweekly column in the American Prospect on democracy issues. Read other posts in the series here. 

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Elections: State Progress, Federal Train Wreck

This is the first post in a new series in which we cross-post a biweekly column written by Ash Center Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy Miles Rapoport for The American Prospect on democracy issues. In this article, originally published here, Rapoport comments on election administration from the perspective of Secretaries of State after attending the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Conference in February. 

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Turning Open Data into Open Government through Citizen Participation

In this post, originally published on the Government Innovators Network, MPP student Wen Hoe examines Irekia, an open government innovation in the Basque Country, as a tool to turn open data into open government through increased participation in policy-making. 

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Americas Watch as U.S. Democracy is Tested

On February 28th, 2017, Ash Center Non-resident Senior Fellow Peter Quilter testified before Congress on the state of the Western Hemisphere. Quilter warned that developments or attacks on U.S. democracy have a good chance of rippling through the Americas. This post is an excerpt from the testimony and shares Quilter’s thoughts on the state of Venezuela and what the U.S. should (or shouldn’t) do about it. Read the full testimony and watch the video online.

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HKS Alumni Use Technology to Improve Democracy

Last fall, the Ash Center convened a panel of four change-makers leveraging technology to improve Democracy titled “#Tech4Democracy: Meet the Change Makers.” This post expounds upon the issues discussed by Tiana Epps-Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Technology and Civic Life; Rey Faustino, CEO of One Degree; Seth Flaxman, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Democracy Works; and Denise Linn, Program Analyst at Smart Chicago during the panel moderated by Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship and Academic Dean, Archon Fung.
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Filed under Data-Smart City Solutions, Elections, Technology, Technology and Democracy

UK Discussion Group: Scotland after Brexit

On 25th October the British and Irish Caucus held its first discussion event of the year.  Joining the discussion was the prominent British Labour politician the Right Honourable Douglas Alexander, and the topic of the evening was the future of Scotland in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum.  This blog post summarizes Douglas’ presentation, and the discussion about what lies ahead for Scotland in the wake of Brexit.

Read other posts in the UK discussion group series.

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Voter Fraud, Redux et Redux

In this post, the Ash Center’s Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy Miles Rapoport shares thoughts on how President Donald Trump is taking right wing voter fraud allegations to the next level. Laying out the recent attacks on voting rights and the response by advocates, Rapoport calls for a renewed intellectual and political effort to protect voting rights from the fraudulent fraud allegations.

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UK Discussion Group: Brexit and Trade

Alongside the US election results, there was another issue Kennedy school students were eager to understand more about at the end of last semester: Brexit. The UK caucus held a packed discussion group on November 23rd with special guests Robert Lawrence, Professor of International Trade and Investment at HKS, and Peter Sands, former CEO of Standard Chartered bank based in London and a visiting fellow at HKS, to discuss Brexit and its implications for trade.

Read other posts in the UK discussion group series.

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Commentary from Democracy Fellow Kai Thaler on Tillerson Confirmation as U.S. Secretary of State

In this op-ed, originally published by the Maine Beacon, Ash Center Democracy Doctoral Fellow Kai Thaler entreats his Maine Senator, Angus King, to rethink his backing of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. Thaler argues that Tillerson’s actions as CEO of Exxon Mobil and his ties with Vladimir Putin and other autocratic leaders with questionable human rights records should preclude him from being confirmed.

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Uruguay Leads Its Neighbors in Open Government

This post examining the development of open government and open data in Uruguay comes from Daniel Carranza, co-founder of DATA Uruguay and consultant in OpenGov and eGov. Last August, Daniel joined a delegation from AGESIC (the Uruguayan agency for government innovation), organized by the United Nations Division for Public Administration and Development Management, that traveled to the United States to learn more about open government data (OGD) and municipal governance, and open data for smart cities. During the trip, the delegation met with faculty and staff at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and with government officials at the City of Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology

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Bright Ideas Initiative Recognizes over 60 Government Programs

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation recognized last week more than 60 innovative government programs as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas initiative. This post highlights some of the Bright Ideas focused on increasing citizen participation, making government more transparent and responsive, and using technology to improve governance.

Please visit the Government Innovators Network for the full list of Bright Ideas and Semifinalist programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.

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First Chapter: National Urban Policy in the Age of Obama by Hilary Silver

urban policyBelow is an excerpt from a new edited volume Urban Policy in the Time of Obama. With President Obama’s term coming to an end Friday, we take a look back at the legacy he will leave behind. Hilary Silver, Senior Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center and Professor Emerita of Sociology and Urban Studies at Brown University, shares her chapter “National Urban Policy in the Age of Obama.”

Many supporters expressed disappointment that the first African-American community organizer to be elected US President did not do more to help cities. Although Barack Obama began to embrace the subject of race relations late in his second term, his urban policy seemed to disappear as his Administration endured. Signature initiatives like Choice Neighborhoods and Promise Zones were anemic in comparison to his predecessors’ programs, adding to the impression that the days of national urban policy were over. Yet, this chapter argues, President Obama did have an effective urban policy that worked by stealth, one embedded in the Recovery Act, foreclosure policies, and other stimulus programs. He also made headway against homelessness. Obama’s urban policy was pursued through new forms of governance as well, promoting interagency cooperation and leveraging resources. Thus, his legacy is not as modest as some have suggested.

This post is part of an occasional series highlighting chapters of recent books by those affiliated with the Ash Center. “National Urban Policy in the Age of Obama” by Hilary Silver appears here by permission of the University of Minnesota Press from Urban Policy in the Time of Obama edited by James DeFilippis, copyright 2016 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. Readers can purchase the book here.

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