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Nebraska Congressional Delegation Scores Low on “Democracy Scorecard”

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022   

The top issue for voters heading into the November elections, even above jobs and the economy, is a growing fear American democracy is under threat, according to a recent poll.

A new "Democracy Scorecard" released by the nonpartisan group Common Cause aims to help voters evaluate their Congressional delegation's commitment to campaign-finance reform, ethics and transparency, and voting rights.

Gavin Geis, executive director of Common Cause Nebraska, said the state's lawmakers are not yet in sync with voters.

"Unfortunately here in Nebraska, our representatives are not getting on board with greater accessibility, accountability and voting rights," Geis noted. "For the most part, our representatives opposed these measures."

Researchers tabulated votes on a series of key reforms, including legislation to expand the freedom to vote, reduce the influence of big money in politics, protect elections from racial discrimination and curb partisan gerrymandering.

Geis pointed out Rep. Adrian Smith, R-NE, of Scottsbluff, and Rep. Don Bacon, R-NE, of Omaha, both supported legislation to provide greater ethics accountability in courthouses.

Common Cause sent four letters to the offices of every member of Congress, informing them of the legislation included in the Democracy Scorecard. Geis believes the letters helped put the pro-democracy agenda on their radar.

"That spurred interest in some of this legislation, it drove some new co-sponsors to these bills," Geis noted. "Just putting it in front of them and saying 'we're looking at this stuff, we want to know how you voted' changes their perspective and wakes them up to 'maybe I should be supporting these efforts, people are watching.' "

Support for democracy reform legislation increased significantly from 2020, when 58 members of Congress had perfect scores compared with 101 in this year's scorecard. While most voters agreed democracy is under threat, Geis admitted there currently are strong disagreements about what needs fixing.

"If we're all seeing that democracy is under threat, even if right now we disagree about what the solutions are, my hope is that we're able to find a way to work together to address that bigger issue," Geis explained. "Because we recognize that democracy is important."

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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