Three things to think about this October 20th
The LA Times hit the nail on the head in its recent article, “American politics is stuck in a rut. Why does nothing change?” The answer to this is complex, so we’ll underscore the most salient points:
We are seeing this dysfunction play out in real-time — all you have to do is turn on the news. In just the last few days, headlines such as, “Vance, Ryan trade blows in 2nd Ohio U.S. Senate debate” and “Final Wisconsin Senate debate gets ugly” remind us how entrenched partisanship is in our country and how broken and dirty our politics really are.
Recent polling also shows the toxicity of our election system — and dirty debates, though that’s just a part of it — directly correlate with a rise in apathy among voters. Just because we all knew this already it doesn’t make it any less concerning or significant, especially as early voting opens this week in multiple states.
So, with the November election fast approaching, it’s important to remember that our nation will only see a way out of this rut if we continue advancing powerful reforms to engage more voters and improve representation. The good news? Those policies are on the ballot right now in more places than ever before, as are candidates who support them.
Fact of the day: Did you know that Pennsylvania invented party primaries, in the mid-19th century?
The reason behind this invention was — no surprise here — to benefit the parties, not the voters. That’s not to say it wasn’t well-intended, as the article linked above explains. But today, that same system is in place which includes closed primaries denying 1.3 million Pennsylvanians the ability to cast a vote during primary season. In an effort to bring Pennsylvania’s system into the 21st century, BallotPA, a growing coalition of civic, community, and business organizations that are committed to open and free elections that lead to responsive and accountable government, is advocating for Pennsylvania to join a growing number of states in reforming the commonwealth’s primary system. Focusing on how Pennsylvania’s closed primary system impacts specific groups in the state, BallotPA’s leader David Thornburgh further highlights the direct impact the current system has on veterans.
“One in two veterans are political independents, so that could mean in Pennsylvania, where there are 400,000 veterans who serve this country, put their lives on the line and come home and are told that they can’t vote,” David Thornburgh, chair of BallotPA stated.
Read the full article to learn more about what’s happening in Pennsylvania and read what Nick Troiano, Executive Director of Unite America has to say about this problem.
Take this: Current projections from the Vote at Home Institute note that of an estimated 60 million ballots mailed out, over 42 million are expected to be returned. The 40% increase in mail-in ballots compared to 2018 is a testament that voting from home is appealing to voters — you don’t need to take time off of work, or worry about finding transportation or childcare — you just need to make a quick stop to the mailbox.
Voting by mail favors ALL voters, not a particular political party. Indeed, despite the issue becoming polarized amid the COVID-19 pandemic, up until recent elections the highest percentage of mail-in ballots were cast by Republicans.
Check out our partner organization Issue One’s recent episode of “Truthtellers” for more about the nonpartisan nature of mail balloting.
Disinformation is, yet again, on our radars, and voters should be on the lookout. Ahead of the November election, Snopes graded Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube on the measures they are taking to prevent the spread of election misinformation. Alarmingly, not one of these companies received an “A” rating, and, even worse, TikTok received an “F” when it came to its readiness to combat misinformation. While this is concerning, this isn’t our first rodeo — we’ve seen the impact that disinformation has had on previous elections and, subsequently, have been forced to rethink how we combat it.
To learn more about one innovative way disinformation is being combated, we once again turn to our friends at Issue One who recently launched an initiative, Council for Responsible Social Media, a bipartisan group of national leaders united to hold social media platforms to higher standards and advocate for fundamental changes that will protect our elections.