Category Archives: Elections

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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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

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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Spotlight on Organizing and Immigration at Democratic National Convention

brownIn light of this week’s Democratic National Convention, Heath Brown, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at City University of New York, shares research findings from his forthcoming book Immigrants and Electoral Politics: Nonprofit Organizing in a Time of Demographic Change which explores the role of nonprofits that represent immigrant communities in U.S. politics. Below, Brown presents some highlights of what he has learned about the work of Dreamer and DNC speaker Astrid Silva, and the work of leaders at similar organizations, which often reflects “a vision for democracy that is consistent with full and active participation of all Americans, citizens and non-citizens, those in the country with documentation and those without.”

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Organizing and Elections in a Post-Brexit, Post-Sanders World

tom traillIn April of 2016, the Ash Center hosted a discussion about the future of social democracy. Moderated by HKS Senior Lecturer Marshall Ganz, the panel included Ash Center Fellow Kathryn Perera, HKS Associate Professor Quinton Mayne, and HKS Adjunct Lecturer Jesse Littlewood. Central to the discussion were the movements and the popular support garnered for the more left-wing candidates in recent progressive elections for the Labour Party with Jeremy Corbyn and for the Democratic Party with Bernie Sanders.

These issues are becoming only more crucial following the increasing disjunct between the outcomes of popular elections and the interests of the elites that organize them. From Brexit to the Republican nomination of Trump to Clinton’s struggles against Bernie Sanders, outcomes are consistently going against the groups that have held power over the last decades. Below, HKS student Tom Traill recaps and extends our recent panel discussion by interviewing Ganz and Perera on the role of popular support and community organizing on electoral and other political processes. Continue reading

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Filed under Elections, Future of Social Movements, Participation

The “Brexit” Referendum: An Argument for Direct Democracy

Dean_Rikki

This post was originally published here on LSE’s British Politics and Policy blog. It is a commentary by Rikki Dean, former Ash Center Visiting Fellow in the Democracy Fellowship Program. Rikki shares his thoughts on today’s EU referendum in which British citizens will decide to leave or remain in the European Union. Rikki makes the argument for direct democracy, pushing back against the idea that important political decisions should be left to the political elites. Read more posts from our blog on referenda and direct democracy.

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The Technology of Elections: Q&A with Tiana Epps-Johnson

Tiana 1Ash Center Technology and Democracy Fellow Tiana Epps-Johnson discusses her recently launched Election Toolkit for local officials administering elections across the United States. The Toolkit, developed in part during Tiana’s tenure as a fellow at the Ash Center and with the financial support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will serve as an online clearinghouse of resources for the 2016 General Election and beyond.  The Toolkit will include website templates, data tools, civic icons, and other digital resources to allow local election officials to better distribute nonpartisan election information in their communities. Read more about the Technology and Democracy Fellowship.

Check out interviews with other Technology and Democracy Fellows here.

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Visualizing Campaign Finance: Q&A with Solomon Kahn

Solomon 2Ash Center Technology and Democracy Fellow Solomon Kahn discusses data, transparency, and solving our democratic deficit with Francesca Schembri. Technology coach and data scientist by day, Solomon uses his skills in his spare time to innovate in the civic tech space. His latest project, Explore Campaign Finance, was launched this summer and allows the public to better understand where contributions to federal office holders come from with more context than ever before. Read more about the Technology and Democracy Fellowship.

Check out interviews with other Technology and Democracy Fellows here.

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First Chapter: Why Elections Fail by Pippa Norris

9781107679023Below is an excerpt from Pippa Norris’s book, Why Elections Fail. Paul. F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at HKS, Pippa Norris is a long-time friend and Faculty Affiliate of the Ash Center, where she gave a book-talk last fall.

Electoral integrity, the set of international norms governing the appropriate conduct of elections, is more complex than the popular focus on ballot stuffing and vote buying. In Why Elections Fail, Norris argues that the rules preventing political actors from manipulating electoral governance are needed to secure integrity, although at the same time, officials need sufficient resources and capacities to manage elections effectively.

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Filed under Democracy in Hard Places, Elections, First Chapter, Participation, Voting Rights

The Challenges of Ensuring Credible Elections

KeeleyIn this post, HKS student Juliette Keeley, MPP ‘17 delves into the challenges of election monitoring and highlights innovations designed to address different aspects of this complex problem. She lays out the advantages and shortcomings of using technology in various capacities to improve election-reporting mechanisms, to report and limit violence and intimidation, and to map community-based organizations. Keeley finds that widespread on-the-ground mobilization and citizen participation are common themes running throughout the most successful election monitoring initiatives.

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Filed under Corruption, Democracy in Hard Places, Elections, Innovation, Participation, Representation, Technology, Voting Rights

Breaking Congo’s Glass Ceiling

Tom O'Bryan_smallThe following is an excerpt from “Breaking Congo’s Glass Ceiling: Gender Politics in the DRC” published in a recent edition of Foreign Affairs by HKS student Tom O’Bryan. The Ash Center is supporting O’Bryan’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he is working with a group of partner nonprofits to launch the Congo Democracy Project: a series of interactive maps of the DRC, focused on elections and democratic governance in the country.

This article profiles the women leading the fight for gender equality in Congolese politics as the country approaches critical national elections later this year. From the streets to the Constitutional Court, DRC’s activists, advocates, and candidates are making important progress in the face of growing resistance.

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