Competitive and fair elections are the ultimate guarantor of American democracy. Yet they are facing an increasing number of challenges. The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to Super PAC and secret money in U.S. elections. The 2016 election cycle witnessed the greatest outpouring of big money in American politics in history. The top 100 donors to Super PACs gave $1 billion, or an average of $10 million per donor, of the $1.8 billion total given to these groups.
The massive sums of money raised for elections are not the only threats to their integrity. Politicians who gerrymander distort electoral districts in order to manipulate likely election outcomes. Barriers to voting registration imposed by lawmakers prevent equitable access to the ballot box. All this undermines the core constitutional principle that the American people—not a wealthy few or the existing class of legislators—should choose their representatives.
On Wednesday, September 27, Governance Studies at Brookings hosted a panel of experts to address these issues. The discussion focused on solutions to the systemic problems facing our democracy, the barriers that exist to achieving these solutions, and how they can be overcome.
After the session, panelists took audience questions.