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 March Toward a Constitutional Convention Slows to a Crawl

While some conservative legislatures may still vote for it, liberal legislatures are rescinding their state’s decades-old support.

(Photo: AP/Michael Conroy)
The slow and steady march of conservatives to have states call for a constitutional convention seemed poised, after the November elections, to take major steps forward. After all, Republicans emerged from the elections with control of both houses of state legislatures in 32 states and governor’s offices in 34 states, and having “trifectas” in 23 states. Democrats, by contrast, have legislative control in only 13 states, governors in 16, and full executive and legislative control in only six. Since the days of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have hoped to win enough support to call a convention vested with the authority to amend and potentially remake the Constitution to their specifications. Their efforts commenced in the 1970s, in the wake of California’s enactment of Proposition 13, with their campaign for a balanced budget amendment and a constitutional convention to enact it. Article V of the Constitution creates this alternative means of amending the...

First Official 2016 Turnout Report Has Some Good News

Same-day registration shows its power.

AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan
AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan Voters fill out their forms and wait to vote at a polling station in Brooklyn, New York, Tuesday, November 8, 2016. " America Goes to the Polls ," the first report on 2016 election turnout based on official returns compiled by secretaries of state, was released Thursday by the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida and Nonprofit VOTE. This is the seventh election for which they have done this. Kudos to the two organizations for providing a report that is full of interesting information and worth a full read on a variety of counts. First, 139 million people voted, 60.2 percent of the voting eligible population (VEP is the best measure because it accounts for people barred from voting for felony convictions). This is the third-highest turnout since 18-year-olds first got the vote in 1972, and a 1.6 percent increase over 2012. A second notable fact is that an astonishing 33 congressional elections were decided by 10 points or less, while 73 percent...

Elections: State Progress, Federal Train Wreck

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

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
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. The 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 suppression, participants in the NASS Conference and its sister group, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), had a fair amount to feel pretty good about. They could...

Three Reasons Why Voting Won’t Be Rigged

And what we should really worry about next

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File
When 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 about what we do need to do to make our election system...

From a Contentious Election to a Stronger Democracy

Strengthening democracy is the key to all other reforms.

(Photo: AP/Joseph Rodriguez/News & Record)
This article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of The American Prospect. Subscribe here. Reviving our democracy will be a paramount challenge for the new administration. The intertwined issues of race, inequality, and democracy have been at the center of the 2016 campaign. Hillary Clinton put it well at the Democratic National Convention in July: “Our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should.” The close primary challenge to Clinton by Senator Bernie Sanders was driven by the widespread feeling that big money is crowding out the voices and views of the people. Fights over voting rights have roiled states around the country. And in a perverted way, these issues have fed Donald Trump’s appeal, too. Many Americans feel unheard and unrepresented. Trump conflates real issues of the dominance of money with the paranoid message that voter registration and voting tallies are “rigged” as well. Fifteen...

Pages