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PNS Daily News - October 23, 2020 


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NH Town Halls to Grill Candidates about Reforming Democracy

The group Equal Citizens hopes to capture the attention of voters and candidates as it seeks suggestions for reforming what it calls "our broken democracy." (Kevin Bowe)
The group Equal Citizens hopes to capture the attention of voters and candidates as it seeks suggestions for reforming what it calls "our broken democracy." (Kevin Bowe)
April 5, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. – New Hampshire voters are already getting plenty of chances to see presidential candidates in person. But a series of candidate forums starts this weekend to ask them how they'd work to reduce corruption in politics.

The group Equal Citizens says democracy reforms – like ending gerrymandering or getting big money out of politics – are necessary before the country can tackle other critical issues.

Its founder, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, will be moderating the forums.

"If you care about climate change, what you have to recognize is, there will not be a law that addresses climate change comprehensively or sensibly, until we change the way we fund campaigns. It's just not possible,” says Lessig. “We thought it would be great to try and set up fora in New Hampshire where candidates can focus on this. So, by the end, you'll get a real sense: Is this a reformer? Or is this somebody just checking a box?"

The first Democracy Town Hall is coming up this Sunday at Concord High School at 3 p.m., where presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang will be featured.

Six more events have been scheduled in May and June, all in New Hampshire. For dates and times, check the Equal Citizens website.

Election changes, like campaign finance reform or ending voter suppression efforts, are issues that have bipartisan support because they even the playing field for all voters, Lessig said.

"Democracy reform is not Democratic or Republican reform” says Lessig. “It's about saying as a citizen, how can I participate equally in this process? And how do we make sure that rules don't bend it against my ability to participate because I happen to be a Republican, or happen to be from a rural district rather than an urban district?"

Equal Citizen cites polling data to support its argument that Americans feel the political system is broken, pointing out that only 11% of voters think the two-party system works "fairly well," and 92% said "elected officials pay more attention to donors than voters."

Kevin Bowe/Dan Heyman, Public News Service - NH