Miles Rapoport

Miles Rapoport is a longtime democracy advocate who served as secretary of state in Connecticut, and president of both Dēmos and Common Cause. He is the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center of the Kennedy School at Harvard and a member of the board of The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Elections: State Progress, Federal Train Wreck

State secretaries bask in smooth Election Day, joust in Washington’s battles

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis Last minute voters rush to cast their ballots on Election Day at the Christ United Methodist Church precinct in north Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Editors’ Note: Miles Rapoport has been on the democracy beat for all of a long career. As a community organizer, a state representative and secretary of state in Connecticut, and for the last 15 years as President of Demos and then of Common Cause, a vibrant and inclusive democracy has been his passion and work. Miles recently became the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center of the Kennedy School at Harvard. Today he begins a biweekly column on democracy issues for the Prospect , where we are also glad to have him as a board member. T he National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) met February 16 and 17 on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks from the White House. Ironically, despite irresponsible claims of massive voter fraud and legitimate worries about voter...

Three Reasons Why Voting Won’t Be Rigged

And what we should really worry about next

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File People line up to vote in the primary at a precinct in Bradfordton, Illinois. W hen Donald Trump describes next Tuesday’s election as “rigged,” he conflates two things. The first is that “the establishment,” in whatever form, is powerfully arrayed against ordinary Americans and against Trump himself as their tribune. The second, darker and more dangerous, allegation is that the voting process itself cannot be trusted, that even if people come out and vote for him, “massive” voting fraud on Election Day and the manipulation of the count will steal the election from him. The first, though Trump is hardly the best messenger for it, is at least an arguable proposition, and has some resonance in the progressive critique. Trump’s second charge, however, poses a serious threat to our democracy and is an essential tool of authoritarian-leaning demagogues. Just as important: It really can’t happen here. We need to be clear about that, and we also need to be clear...

McConnell Uses Misinformation to Protect Secret Political Donors

How the Kentucky senator is trying to block an executive order on political spending. 

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File In this January 12, 2016 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. S ix years after U.S Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision, voters across the political spectrum are tired of a system that prioritizes big donors over everyday voters and are ready for bold solutions. Simply put: The debate about the problem of money in politics is over. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks otherwise. McConnell last week unleashed a blizzard of misinformation aimed at knocking down an effort to help voters learn more about who is buying influence in government, specifically when our tax dollars are used in the contracting process. As The New York Times and The Washington Post recently reported, President Obama is seriously considering an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. This would be an important step toward making good...

Democracy's New Moment

F or a very long time, those of us committed to strengthening American democracy felt we were—if not voices crying in the wilderness—standing on the sidelines, stamping our feet for attention. Fights over the right to vote and other civil rights are as old as the Republic, as are efforts to restrain the influence of money in politics. But until lately, the health of democracy itself was not quite a first-tier public issue. When the 2000 election showed just how important a few votes could be, we hoped this debacle would galvanize a broader movement for democracy. In March 2001, I wrote an article for this magazine entitled “Democracy’s Moment,” calling for a movement with the broad agenda of expanding voting and reining in runaway campaign spending. The closing sentence was “If the democracy movement is successful, America’s real and diverse majority will emerge and change our country for the better.” It was slightly wishful thinking, at the time. Now, 14 years later, we are in even...

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