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The Structural Democratic Reforms Project


Wavy Circles



The objective of the Structural Democratic Reforms Project is to bring academics, practitioners, and others with relevant expertise together in a collective effort to develop ideas for reforms that can strengthen or safeguard key elements of American democracy. Leveraging your help and the power of crowdsourcing, we will develop an extensive database of promising ideas for reform and determine which ones are most actionable at the present time.

Our Approach


Our focus—both in terms of democratic principles and implementation mechanisms—is non-exhaustive. We have selected several democratic principles that most directly relate to key elements of democracy in a diverse society, such as democratic representation, voter participation, and/or electoral integrity, to focus our investigation. There are potential reforms grounded in other democratic principles that are important and worthy of study and action, and we encourage research in these domains.


We have also focused our investigation on several key implementation mechanisms that have the most direct implications for pro-democracy campaigning and voter-facing initiatives as a path to impact at the present time, including state/federal legislation, ballot initiative, or executive order. Reforms could be certainly be achieved via other mechanisms—including constitutional amendments, agency rulemaking, state or federal courts, and many more—and we encourage future research that investigates these potential pathways for change.

Project Stages


We hope to build and disseminate a new understanding of what reforms could strengthen, improve, and safeguard our democracy through several stages:


1. Idea
Ring of Light Bulbs

Generate the largest yet assembled dataset of (existing and new) ideas for structural democratic reforms via a broad open call targeting academics, practitioners, and others with relevant expertise.

2. Expert
Magnifying Glass

Recruit academic and practitioner experts to evaluate reform characteristics (e.g., normative desirability, political viability).

3. Public Support Survey
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Survey levels and distributions of public support for the most desirable and viable reforms.

4. Message
Image by Volodymyr Hryshchenko

Test the effects of different approaches to persuasive messaging about these reforms.

5. Conference

Announce the results at a non-partisan conference on structural democratic reforms designed to build focus in this area of research and action.

Areas of Interest


We are focused on (a) changes to governmental policies and/or procedures that (b) could be implemented via federal legislation, state legislation, executive order, or ballot initiative and (c) are intended to promote one or more of the following democratic principles:

Increasing citizens’ influence on election and policy outcomes
Facilitating voter participation and ballot access
Voting in Election
Ensuring integrity, transparency, and fairness of election systems
Hands Voting
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