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How Americans Can Strengthen Democracy during a Divisive Election

A report supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York offers nonpartisan resources to connect Americans to shared democratic values

In Democracy for President: A Guide to How Americans Can Strengthen Democracy during a Divisive Election, a report supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the authors write: 

As the nation moves closer to Election Day, there is widespread concern about what will happen with the voting process and the election results. A substantial majority of the country is worried about election-related violence. Americans feel that the country is intensely divided, with partisan voices dominating what they see and hear.

Elections are divisive by design. They force us to pick winners and losers. This is essential to the health of our democracy – we want and need a competition of ideas and candidates. But when there is so much animosity in politics, as there is today, new risks emerge which can be exploited by actors interested in weakening and dividing America.

The report, published by More in Common, a nonpartisan nonprofit that helps bring Americans together to tackle shared challenges, describes how citizens are experiencing this election season, their views on the state of democracy, and their concerns about the integrity of the election. It also provides nonpartisan guidance for what Americans can do to strengthen our democracy in the coming weeks and months, including how to talk in ways that resonate across political lines, particularly at the community level.

The report’s companion website offers tools for engaging in productive conversations around common election concerns including political violence, trust in election outcomes, why democracy matters, how to talk with someone you don’t agree with, and safety and security issues involving COVID–19 and mail-in voting. The report notes that while “fewer than half of Americans — 41 percent — feel the U.S. government is prepared to keep this year’s election secure,” 87 percent of those polled, “see voting as a way they can take action to improve our country,” a finding that holds across party lines and racial background.

According to the authors, Democracy for President was created in this particular moment to equip citizens with the insights, tools, and guidance to engage in difficult conversations. “In the end, Americans are in this together,” write the report’s authors, “and each of us is responsible for the health of this shared experiment in self-government.”


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