This collection on American democracy challenges and complements blog posts and opinion pieces that are typical staples of the 24/7 news cycle in the lead up to US elections. You'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions, the role of the media in civil society, and more.

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"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Policy to Advance Good Faith Election Observation

January 10, 2022

This report outlines policy best practices for election observers and challengers. The set of recommendations is unanimously endorsed by the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Elections, a diverse group of state and local election officials from across the country. Election officials have the best perspective for how election policy works when put into practice. To secure the integrity of the 2022 and 2024 elections, we need look no further than the dedicated professionals long committed to our democracy.The recommendations made in this report stand to ensure accountability and transparency in the administration of elections. For maximum effectiveness, the recommendations should be considered as a unified set. Election administration is a complex ecosystem: Changes to one policy have upstream and downstream impacts for countless other parts of the process. This set of recommendations anticipates those impacts and works cohesively to address them.

Campaigns and Elections

Bipartisan Principles for Election Audits

November 8, 2021

This report aims to outline what a secure, precise, trustworthy audit of an election should look like in every state. Recommendations in the report include that audits should take place before the results are certified, that election officials must maintain custody of the ballots during audits, and that audits should be open to the public for observation. Extralegal investigations in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin do not meet most of the unanimously endorsed recommendations put forward in the report.

Campaigns and Elections

Improving the Voting Experience After 2020

April 6, 2021

A report by the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Elections that outlines ways to enhance local election administration in light of issues surrounding the 2020 U.S. election. The authors list twelve recommendations on topics ranging from emergency election procedures to ballot return standardization to expanding early voting and more, with the goal of meaningfully improving voters' access to a secure ballot.

Campaigns and Elections

America’s Electoral Future The Coming Generational Transformation

October 19, 2020

A report building on a previous 2018 report issued by the authors as part of the States of Change project. The 2018 report examined various future presidential election scenarios (from 2020 through 2036) that could occur due to demographic changes at the state and national level over the next several decades. This revised 2020 report updates the scenarios with new demographic projections based on the latest census data, explicitly incorporates gender into the projections and scenarios for the first time, and examines the likely evolution of generational cohorts over the next several decades. 

Campaigns and Elections

The 2018 Voting Experience

July 9, 2020

This report documents the results of a nationwide study that the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted in 3,119 individual polling places across the country to measure wait times at the polls during the 2018 midterms. It provides the type of fine-grained analysis of voters' reality as they waited to cast ballots that survey data cannot replicate.

America's Electoral Future: Demographic Shifts and the Future of the Trump Coalition

April 1, 2018

The 2016 election was an election that defied most expectations. An unorthodox candidate put together an unexpected coalition of states to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. As the nation's demographics change, questions remain about whether this coalition can hold together for Republicans in 2020 and beyond, and how the shifting views and increased diversity within millennial and post-millennial generations will impact the future of U.S. politics.

Civic Participation

Improving the Voter Experience: Reducing Polling Place Wait Times by Measuring Lines and Managing Polling Place Resources

April 1, 2018

Long lines at the polls can undermine the voting experience, even to the point of discouraging people from voting. Reducing polling place wait times by measuring lines and managing polling place resources can improve the voting experience.

Campaigns and Elections; Government

Evidence Use in Congress: Options for Charting a New Direction; Volume 2

April 1, 2018

Lawmakers in Congress have expressed a growing interest in the promise of evidence-based policymaking. Bipartisan legislation has been pursued in Congress that would encourage the use of evidence to improve outcomes for key education, health, workforce, and other federal programs. These past legislative initiatives suggest growing potential for the wider use of evidence to better inform congressional decision-making in the future. However, key challenges remain for fostering a stronger culture of evidence in Congress. This stronger culture will be necessary to fully realize the potential benefits of evidence-based policymaking.

Government

Two Perspectives on Demographics and U.S. Electoral Coalitions After 2016

April 1, 2018

The States of Change: Demographics and Democracy project examines in this report an array of future presidential election outcome scenarios -- from 2020 through 2036 -- that could arise as the demography of the nation and its 50 states changes over the next 18 years.

Campaigns and Elections

Evidence Use in Congress: Challenges for Evidence-Based Policymaking; Volume 1

March 1, 2018

Evidence-based policymaking holds the potential to restore some of the lost public trust in America's government institutions, including Congress. When evidence is used to make incremental changes to policies and programs, it can improve performance. The approach to collecting and using information about government policies and programs has been increasingly demanded in some parts of Congress, though its implementation today is not evenly applied throughout the institution.

Government

Campaign Finance in the United States: Assessing an Era of Fundamental Change

January 1, 2018

The goal of this report and the larger research effort that produced it is to clarify the dynamics of the modern campaign finance system in the United States. To this end, the effort produced a set of studies and a bipartisan report drawn from the best social science relating to the changing dynamics of the U.S. campaign finance system. The report examines the legal, political, and technological shifts that have combined to shape the current campaign finance regime.

Campaigns and Elections; Government

Rebalancing the Federal-State Partnership: Recommendations of the BPC Governors' Council

November 1, 2016

The expansion of federal power over recent decades has prompted growing concern about a deepening and ultimately corrosive imbalance in the federalist system.

Government