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Ten Critiques (And Defenses) On Approval Voting

Posted by Aaron Hamlin on September 21, 2018 at 6:43 PM

By Aaron Hamlin, The Center for Election Science. Reposted from

Getting Started

Dig into voting methods and it won’t be long before you find criticism on different approaches. Approval voting (choose one or more, the candidate with the most votes wins) is no different. Unfortunately, analyzing voting methods—even when the methods themselves are simple—can get complicated.

To further complicate matters, we know through Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem that ranking (ordinal) methods must all fail some basic criteria that we’d prefer they not. Another theorem, the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem, shows that no voting method (beyond dictatorship or lottery) is immune to tactical voting.

Where does that leave us when evaluating a voting method?

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New bipartisan poll confirms urgency to fix our democracy

Posted by Nick Penniman on September 13, 2018 at 4:45 PM

By Nick Penniman, Issue One. Reposted from Issue One.

Poll after poll confirms: Americans think our democracy is broken. And they are right.

But this new, bipartisan poll, called the “Democracy Project Report,” should really turn heads because it shows just how broad that sentiment is — and why now is the time to support real solutions to the crisis facing our democracy.

The new poll is the joint effort of the George W. Bush CenterThe Penn Biden Centerand Freedom House that engaged both Republican and Democratic pollsters before reaching their conclusions.

What did they find? That this “crisis of confidence” in American democracy is shared by the right and left. Although Americans still want to live in a democracy, 55 percent see ours as weak, and 68 percent see it as getting weaker.

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The Politics of Friendship

Posted by Clarissa Unger on September 07, 2018 at 3:20 PM

By Clarissa Unger, Young Invincibles.

This article was originally published on for Civic Nation's ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. 

There’s something happening in our country. Partisan politics seem to divide us more than ever. We see divisive rhetoric and actions around issues like immigration, health care, taxes, and almost everything in between. This divide paralyzes our elected officials, keeping them from passing legislation at every level of government. It even prevents many of us from forming friendships or meaningful relationships with people that hold political perspectives different than our own. A polarized populace unable to reach across the aisle or even across the fence is not the America that we have been raised to believe in, or what I believe any of us really want.

The promise of America, of our democracy, has never been a guarantee. It requires something of each of us. If we want a government that represents us, we have to participate. And we have to work together, despite differences in perspectives or political ideology.

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Protecting Our Democracy: The Obligation of Leadership

Posted by Thom Little on August 31, 2018 at 4:43 PM

By Thom Little, Ph.D., State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF).

More than two centuries ago, fifty-five men from across thirteen American colonies established a government like none other before, a government where power was bestowed not by birth right or by armed might, but by consent. A democracy. The governed had, by the power of their voice and their vote, the right to determine who would govern them and accordingly, the right to remove them as necessary. Thus began what Alexis de Tocqueville described as “the great experiment” to see if man was truly capable of self government.

With a lot of hard work, good leadership and not a little bit of luck, this government has endured- it has survived some less than competent and noble leaders and irrational decisions made out of fear, racism, sexism, partisanship and just plain ignorance. It has survived wars internal and external. It has, although not without pain, hardship and some serious missteps, integrated peoples of different races, ethnicities, identities and philosophies. The nation has moved forward in fits and starts, but it has moved forward.

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Pipat's Letter

Posted by Jacqueline Salit on August 24, 2018 at 6:28 PM

By Jacqueline Salit,

Note: This post was the day after the famous Tham Luang cave rescue in July 2018.

I had followed the story of the boys -- the Thai soccer team and their coach -- who were trapped in Tham Luang Cave in Thailand since June 23rd. When I passed a newsstand on Monday night and saw that four were rescued, I choked up for a second. There were still eight more and the coach to go. Scores of divers traveled to the cave from around the world to help with the effort and a Thai Navy Seal died trying to chart an escape route through the floodwaters that filled the mile and a half of treacherous cave pathways.

Yesterday morning all the boys—the Wild Boars –were rescued.  At the end of one of the detailed accounts of the rescue operations, I read some of the notes that the boys had sent to their families, transported by divers who became the link between them while they were still in the cave.  Pipat Poti, who is 15, wrote to his parents, “Mom, Dad, I love you guys, and little sister Toi.  If I get out please take me to a pork barbecue place.  I love you Dad, Mom.”  My heart skipped a beat.  Pipat, trapped in a harrowing maze with low levels of oxygen and facing a dangerous escape route, longed for his family and a small pleasure.  Pork barbecue.

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Amplifying the Awesome Power of Debate – IBM's Project Debater and

Posted by Kamy Akhavan on August 17, 2018 at 3:23 PM

By Kamy Akhavan, Reposted from

French essayist Joseph Joubert wrote in 1896: "It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it."

For the last 15 years, I've led the nation's most popular debate organization, While our public charity has served more than 180 million people since 2004, our obsession with critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship has met a formidable and unexpected ally – one whose audience could reach into the billions. I'm talking about IBM and its Project Debater.

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Glimpsing a Silver-Lining in this Otherwise Gloomy American Moment

Posted by Jacob Hess on August 10, 2018 at 5:01 PM

By Jacob Hess, Living Room Conversationsand Village Square

Amidst the tumult of this perilous moment in the United States, could something surprisingly beautiful arise? Could this be the moment when good-hearted people across the political spectrum are forced to decisively come together - in defense of something perhaps more fundamental than ideological commitments of their respective parties?  

If so, Jacob Hess (Living Room Conversations & Village Square) writes in a three-part series, it may start with recognizing the extent to which a profound disagreement has come to increasingly divide not only people identifying as "conservative" - but equally so among "progressives" too.

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The Need for Better Governance: An Example

Posted by Hana Ryan on August 03, 2018 at 2:11 PM

By Hana Ryan, The Bridge Alliance

Being a small business owner in America is not easy. You need the right amount of capital, the right team, and the right market just to launch your business, let alone be successful. Yet one of the biggest challenges facing small business’ is an unlikely enemy: the US government. A recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 45% of small business owners consider government regulations a very serious business problem. Why? The sheer volume and compliance cost of regulations eats up a significant amount of human and financial capital - resources in scarce supply for small business owners.

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Posted by Tammie Statler on July 27, 2018 at 5:35 PM

By Tammie Statler, Inspire U.S. Reposted from

Peyton Jernigan, Yorktown High School, shadowed an Inspire U.S. staff member in Virginia for her senior experience. Read what she learned as an Inspired Fellow.

How did you find out about Inspire U.S.?

This past school year, my government class dedicated a class period to Inspire U.S. and the League of Women Voters. Both organizations brought in representatives and had students help register seniors to vote and to answer some questions about voter registration. Not only were these organizations informative, they also made the process comfortable and enjoyable.

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Posted by Matt Leighninger on July 23, 2018 at 7:44 PM

By Matt Leighninger, Public Agenda. Reposted from

How can public engagement evolve in order to meet the challenges and conditions of 2018? My previous post argued for making engagement more social, versatile, convenient and fun. This time, I’ll explore the need to deal with the challenge of scale, so that people can be heard on state and federal issues, not just local ones.

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