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

Tuesday’s Verdict on Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering

In numerous states, voters elected new governors and legislatures, and passed ballot measures that could reverse the Republicans’ war on democracy.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File People gather around a "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4, a Florida initiative which restores voting rights to about 1.4 million returning citizens who have served their felony sentences. W hile all eyes are on the new contours of Congress and the Trump tremors, the composition of state legislatures, governorships, and secretaries of state has changed significantly as well. The new landscape offers possibilities for a series of structural reforms in our democracy that can help change the game for the long haul. In 2011, immediately following the Tea Party wave, Republicans in many states went to work to cement their political control. Extreme gerrymandering, attacks on labor unions, and efforts to limit the ability of people to vote were all part of their playbook. Those voter suppression efforts were highly visible in 2018. Gerrymandering certainly saved a number of Republican congressional seats, and barriers to voting and active voter...

Beware of Complicated Restructuring

Colleen McGrath/The Herald-Mail via AP A poll worker hands out "I Voted" stickers during a primary election at Maugansville Elementary School in Maugansville, Maryland. A lthough I am a friend of Ben Page and Marty Gilens and a fan of their tireless work on behalf of equality and democracy, their article “Making American Democracy Representative” has limited appeal for me. I agree with some of their proposals, but I disagree with others. I also disagree with a fundamental premise of their approach, and instead favor a more feasible alternative path to making American politics more democratic. I do support their first proposal, ranked-choice voting, and admire the work that reformers have done in Maine to implement ranked choice under difficult political circumstances, though it is not the only way to address the problem of spoiler candidates. Fusion voting—that is, allowing cross-endorsements of candidates by multiple parties—has some of the same effects. Fusion in New York,...

Movement in the Fight for Voting Rights Restoration

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay) Protesters gather outside the federal courthouse on July 10, 2017, in San Antonio, where a redistricting trial was taking place. O n 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...

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.

Chris Kleponis/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach attends the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at The White House in July 2017. W hen 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...

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
Daniel Sangjib Min/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP Voters line up to cast ballots at Richmond Public Library on November 7, 2017 R epublicans 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...