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Strengthening Democracy

Addressing inequities in American democracy is a key mission of the Yankelovich Center. Two major research partnerships are helping advance this effort:

iStock-1272497364---Cropped.jpgThe Race and Local Democracy Research-Practice Partnership

Center co-director Zoltan Hajnal is working with More Equitable Democracy, a racial justice organization, to identify reforms designed to help local governments confront racial and ethnic inequities and broaden participation in democracy.

The partnership plans to develop a model charter that city and county governments can use to guide these efforts.

Hajnal and other experts consider local governments a good  proving ground for democracy-building reforms – and note that they tend to be more open to improvements.

The partnership partly grew out of a 2015 California law that required cities to hold their municipal elections on the same day as state or national races – a move that has significantly increased turnout and expanded the range of people who cast ballots.

Hajnal has been making the case for holding local elections in tandem with state and federal ballots since this 2002 co-authored report.

The Race and State Democracy ProjectiStock-1130577176.jpg

Yankelovich Center co-director Thad Kousser is researching how changes in state-level election laws are reshaping the electorate. He is assessing the impact these reforms are having on the size and makeup of the voting pool.

Kousser is part of the New Electorate Project, a statewide team of University of California scholars that has been evaluating the expansion of mail balloting, automatic registration and other voting reforms in the state.

The project, which has established strong links with state policymakers and local voter registrars in California, is working to produce policy briefs that can be used by lawmakers who want to expand the electorate so it more accurately reflects the state’s diverse population.

Kousser and the Yankelovich Center are complementing these efforts by conducting periodic voter surveys, with questions related to political engagement, disinformation, equity and other issues.