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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 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