By Eliza Newlin Carney


The election is over but the voting wars continue, and a wave of new state laws to restrict access to the polls has stirred national controversy. Yet voting rights advocates have also scored important victories, and are winning where it matters most — in the court of public opinion.

Yes, new laws passed in Georgia and several other states impose strict new curbs on voters, including ID requirements and limits on absentee voting. The Georgia law most directly threatens voters by stripping power from nonpartisan election administrators and handing it to partisan politicians, an approach being…

By Eliza Newlin Carney


One of Donald Trump’s very last acts as president was to release a report by his “1776 Commission” that trumpeted “patriotic education,” defended the Founding Fathers’ ownership of slaves, likened progressives to Mussolini, and was roundly denounced by historians.

Four days later, one of President Joe Biden’s first acts as Commander in Chief was to toss out that report via executive order. Biden’s action came on the heels of an inaugural speech that invoked the peaceful transfer of power, civility, pluralism, tolerance and truth.

It was a fitting start to what could turn out…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

By Rudy Bercan

The presidential election is over, despite ongoing efforts to rewrite history. President Donald Trump’s failure to subvert the will of the voters is thanks largely to a half-dozen guardrails that held fast against an extreme democracy stress test, as I wrote in The Fulcrum. These included the military, the courts, the media, the states, voting machine paper trails, and the voters themselves.

But what about next time? Under different circumstances, less scrupulous election officers, lawmakers or judges might have behaved differently. “The next set of local officials might prove to be less honorable,” noted Fareed Zakaria…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Photo by Shutterstock

Election Day is here, and Americans are on edge. Storefronts and office buildings are boarded up in anticipation of street violence. Partisans on both sides are warning that the opposition will rig the outcome.

At this moment of national anxiety and even paranoia, it behooves us to pause and take note of the silver linings that peek out from behind these clouds of disruption and fear.

Spotlighting civic success stories may seem naïve given all that is going wrong these days. But it’s equally gullible to assume the absolute worst in the politicians, judges and fellow…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Photo by Shutterstock

On the surface, this election looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Congress approved only a small fraction ($400 million) of the estimated $4 billion that states needed to run the election amid a pandemic. Lawsuits, postal service delays, and fears about voter suppression or a looming constitutional crisis have left many Americans bracing for Election Day chaos.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box this year: average Americans, business leaders, student volunteers, and state and local officials have all stepped in where the federal government failed. In addition to…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Photo by Kim Wilson

Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate cements 2020 as the year of the Black woman, particularly when it comes to campaign fundraising. Biden raised $48 million within 48 hours of tapping Harris, the senator from California, as his №2 on the Democratic presidential ticket.

A record 267 women of color are running for Congress this year, half of them Black, and they’re riding a tidal wave of campaign cash. African American candidates across the board have been showered with campaign contributions since the May police killing of George Floyd, as I…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Visuals for Unsplash

Americans may have to wait days for final election results this year, election experts warn, as the pandemic drives voters to absentee ballots. Since Republicans favor in-person voting while Democrats are more inclined to vote absentee, President Trump may perform better on Election Day than in the days that follow, as mail-in votes are tallied.

All that has raised alarms about a crisis of public confidence in the election result, particularly given Trump’s recent attacks on mail-in voting. Recent primaries marred by long lines, lost absentee ballots and malfunctioning machines have intensified fears of…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Arthur Edelman for Unsplash

Is the nation falling apart, or coming together? Perhaps a bit of both, but the forces of unity are stronger than they might look on the surface.

By one measure, the number of Americans who describe the country as unified has jumped fourfold since 2018, as I write in The Fulcrum this month, and 90 percent say “we’re all in it together,” up from just 63 percent two years ago.

The coronavirus has exposed political divisions and inequities, but it is also the kind of systemic disruption that could open the way for new political alignments…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Utsav Srestha on Unsplash

One of the ironies of the Covid-19 pandemic is that local newspaper readership is surging at the same time that plunging ad revenues are forcing newsrooms cut their staffs to the bone.

In the short term, the news industry needs federal relief to avoid what has been called “an extinction event” for local papers. But as I wrote recently in The Fulcrum, the pandemic is also accelerating a “civic news” movement that envisions a more mission-driven model for the media industry.

What would happen, for example, if newsrooms asked communities what they would like…

By Eliza Newlin Carney

Paul Weaver on Unsplash

Young voters have flocked to Bernie Sanders during the 2020 Democratic primary, but Joe Biden is now his party’s presumptive nominee. It’s been like that a lot for young voters this year, who had been hailed as an emerging powerhouse voting bloc, but who have failed to live up to that billing.

The latest blow comes from nationwide campus closures that have sent college and university students scattering, just as a budding movement to turn them out to vote was looking unstoppable. As I write in The Fulcrum this week: “Registration drives, absentee ballot parties, political…

The Civic Circle

The Civic Circle is a nonpartisan nonprofit that uses music and drama to teach young kids about democracy, including voting, voluntarism and public leadership.

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