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Democracy Demands Effort

In Focus

Democracy Demands Effort

Democratic countries have long balanced stability and unrest. Are we at an inflection point?

Is American democracy in peril?

Three Harvard scholars of government and politics share their concerns about the U.S. political landscape.

Read more from The Harvard Gazette

The future of voting

Someone holding a very long voting ballot
  • Voting has always been an evolving process. In America’s voting history we’ve made many changes to who can vote, and today our experts look at further improvements.

  • ☑ New places to vote

    “Stadiums and arenas make excellent polling sites. They are big, have parking, are usually near mass transit,” says Ash Center Fellow Tova Wang. Learn more about arena voting

  • ☑ New ways to increase turnout

    “We have to begin to think about universal voting. How do we create an affirmative duty by the government to get people out to vote,” asks Harvard Kennedy School Professor Cornell Brooks. Learn more about the obstacles and consequences

  • ☑ New types of voting

    “Under the current system … if there are many candidates running for office, the candidate with the most votes might actually have just a fraction of the overall total,” says Eric Maskin, professor of economics and mathematics. Learn more about ranked choice voting

  • ☑ New tools for representation

    “It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey, I think that map looks unfair because the boundaries are super squiggly.’ But … a judge has to clearly be able to decide: Is this fair or not,” says Cory McCartan, a Ph.D candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Learn more about these algorithms for fighting gerrymandering

  • ☑ New approaches to obsolete laws

    “What the Electoral College does is to give states weight in the election in proportion to their population, not in proportion to the number of people who vote,” says Harvard Kennedy School Professor Alex Keyssar. Learn more about improving this fascet of our democracy

  • ☑ New ways to make every vote count

    “States that implemented certain policies, like … ballot cure, ballot tracking, and ballot drop boxes, generally had lower rejection rates,” says Harvard Kennedy School student Jose Altamirano. Learn more about reducing rejected ballots

The future of bipartisanship

“Part of the angry, confrontational, polarized culture we have gotten into is that it makes us forget the complexity of people,” says Radcliffe Fellow Anand Giridharadas.

Read more about the importance of engaging with one another in a positive way

The future of media and misinformation

Trading the newsroom for the classroom, Professor Nancy Gibbs uses her experience to help students understand how today’s media ecosystem shapes public opinion and policy.

Read more about the challenges facing the media and democracy

A man lectures in front of a smart board
  • Harvard Kennedy School

Is there a human right to truth?

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  • Harvard Law School

How can protecting the media also protect democracy?

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  • Harvard Kennedy School

Decreasing disinformation in public discourse

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  • The Harvard Gazette

The rise of weaponizing memes

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  • The Shorenstein Center

How an authoritarian wields social media

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  • Harvard Law School

Social media and democracy

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The future of civic engagement

The U.S. government has been using computers to store information and automate procedures since the 1940s, but some Harvard researchers don’t think it’s kept up with the latest wave of digital innovation, and they’re working to fix that.

Learn more about digital governing

The future of global democracies

Harvard experts are exploring ways to improve and cultivate democracies around the world.

Learn how Harvard Kennedy School faculty see the current state of global democracies

Two people talking on stage

Struggling democracies and lingering colonialism

Maya Wiley, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, explores how a lack of multiracial democracies inhibits true representation globally.

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The African continent

Was the pandemic an opportunity for destabilization in African countries?

All the flags of Africa in the shape of Africa
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Is it possible to fight the rampant fake news and misinformation?

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The Philippines

Will clan politics and historical revisionism continue to reign supreme?

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