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

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...

Kobach ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Gets Fast Thumbs Down

Lacking even the veneer of bipartisanship, the Kobach Commission represents an assault on basic voting rights.

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
The Kobach Commission (sometimes referred to as the Pence Commission) on voter fraud was created in the way so many things have been in the Trump administration. It started with an angry and completely unsubstantiated tweet, echoing a campaign trope, followed by public statements doubling down on the message, followed by a half-baked executive order. The Commission was created to investigate the allegations of Trump’s alternative universe, where massive voter fraud cost the president millions of votes. The true voter fraud—creating obstacles to the right to vote—is not part of its mandate. Kris Kobach is of course the perfect choice. As Kansas secretary of state, he has made his reputation seeking to make it as difficult as possible for people in Kansas to vote, and by fanning the fantasy of massive voter fraud. Kobach has been sued four times by the ACLU for his efforts to prevent people from voting, and lost all four cases. After months of aggressive investigation...

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