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

Movement in the Fight for Voting Rights Restoration

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
On January 23, Floridians for a Fair Democracy announced that the Second Chance Voting Restoration Amendment has qualified for the November 2018 ballot, with over 1.1 million petition signatures submitted and over 760,000 certified. The amendment will be Question 4 on the ballot. The measure would allow people convicted of most felonies who have completed their sentences—including parole, probation, and any restitution required—to have their voting rights automatically restored upon completion. The amendment would specifically exclude people convicted of murder or sexual offenses. This is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by a broad coalition of organizations and constituencies, including democracy advocates, civil rights leaders, conservative religious organizations, and a number of law enforcement officials. Among the leaders were the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and the ACLU. This success is also an indicator of the importance of felony...

The Brief Life and Predictable Death of the Kobach Commission

From the start, the group overreached, alienating voting rights groups and secretaries of state with its demands.

When Donald Trump slammed the door on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voting Integrity—the same way it began, with a tweet—it seemed, in hindsight, a completely predictable occurrence. The question of what happens next has yet to play out, but whatever form the commission’s next incarnation takes seems equally unlikely to produce any discernible results. The Kobach Commission was a perfectly emblematic enterprise of the Trump administration from day one. It had all the characteristics of the administration itself: a distorted understanding of American elections girded by a supreme lack of facts, an agenda born of resentment and conspiracy theories, a complete disregard of norms and procedures, and a talent for gross incompetence, arrogance, and overreach. The commission grew out of Trump’s ludicrous claim, pushed by Steve Bannon, that three to five million illegal voters, mainly non-citizen immigrants, had voted in the 2016 presidential election; if...

Prospects Brightening for Redistricting Reform

Republicans’ hold on Congress and statehouses could be more vulnerable than once thought.

Daniel Sangjib Min/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP
Republicans had stunning success after the 2010 Tea Party wave election tilting the rules of our election processes in their favor. One major part of that was extreme gerrymandering after the 2010 Census, taking advantage of increased Republican control of state legislatures elected in 2010. The lopsided congressional and legislative delegations have led many analysts to wonder whether even a blue “wave election” could flip enough seats for Democrats to take control of either house of Congress or very many state legislatures. But there are a number of reasons to think that the times may be changing. The Virginia off-year election showed both the challenge and the possibilities. Democrats picked up all statewide offices, and won roughly 224,000 more votes than Republicans in state legislative races. Extensive gerrymandering has almost certainly left the Republicans with narrow control of the House of Delegates; with anything close to fair districting, Democrats would have...

Voter Suppression in the Mirror and Looking Forward

How much damage occurred in 2016, and what’s in store for 2018 and beyond?

(Marisa Wojcik/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram via AP)
A question—one of the many—hanging over the 2016 election is the impact of state laws and administrative techniques designed to make it more difficult for people to vote. How were people affected, and to what degree did these practices alter the election’s outcome? And what is going to happen in 2018, as a national administration committed to depressing the right to vote works with state allies? Next year is an off-year election when factors influencing turnout, even marginally, could be crucial. Conversely, what forms of resistance are already occurring, and how effective will they be in protecting and expanding the franchise? In 2016, other factors affecting turnout included the Russian hacking, the Comey interventions, the enthusiasm gap among Obama voters, the lack of a clear economic message and other missteps of the Clinton campaign itself—the list goes on. So it isn’t surprising that attempts to quantify the impact of voter suppression have been...

Voting Fights in the States

Less suppression than feared; some surprising progress

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky
The national battle over voting rights and “voter fraud” will play out in Washington over the next months in relation to the Kobach-Pence commission and the resistance to it. But in the meantime, issues have been joined this spring in state legislative sessions around the country. And the resulting scorecard may surprise you. Back in November, when the dust settled after the election, the numbers on partisan control of legislatures seemed stark and frightening for advocates of voting rights and election reform. Republicans controlled both chambers in 31 states, and had the full “trifecta,” including the governor, in 24. In sharp contrast, Democrats controlled both houses in only 13 states, and had trifectas in a mere six. Looking at these numbers, at the post- Shelby decision absence of Voting Rights Act preclearance protections, and at the radically changed posture of the Justice Department, many feared an onslaught of voter-suppression legislation that would...

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