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Policing the Vote: Election Integrity Units in Florida and Ohio

March 1, 2024

In this research, we delve into the structural aspects of U.S. election administration with a specific focus on the relationship between state executive branches, local-level bureaucrats, and the voters they serve, focusing on an analysis of election integrity units in two specific states: Florida and Ohio. We find that election integrity units or "election police" have opaque structures, budgets, and responsibilities—and their creation and existence prompt more questions than answers. Florida's election integrity unit is more developed than the unit in Ohio at this time; however, the impact is nonetheless felt by voters in both states. These units create uncertainty and apprehension around the voting process in the name of "integrity." Uncertainty and apprehension are leading to reduced levels of voter registration efforts, criminalization of honest mistakes by well-intentioned voters, and a dampening of enthusiasm to participate in the democratic process, or, more generally, public service. Studies have found that the creation of these units disproportionately affects Black and Brown voters (Jouvenal, 2023). In addition, the cloudy reporting structure and vague transfer of authority to these units over cases of alleged voter fraud bring to bear questions about the politicization of nonpartisan state operations.  

Election Budgeting: A Deeper Dive Into the Cost of State Elections

November 9, 2023

This report expands upon aspects of MIT's The Cost of Conducting Elections by looking at budgeting from the state and county budgeting perspective.The report covers how states and local governments choose to fund their elections, the role of private and public grants, and the differences between states and some of their counties. For this report, we parsed through the budgets of eight states, and within each of those states, two counties, for a total of 24 entities.The baseline funding of the elections systems of states and localities, while difficult to uncover and parse through, is available on public government websites or through public records requests filed with the appropriate parties.After a deep dive into the way these states and counties fund their elections, several themes emerged, but even more importantly, several big questions about what is next for the election system in our country.

A Road Map for Asset Based Investing in Central Appalachia

September 26, 2023

The Appalachia Funders Network (AFN) is a rapidly evolving and maturing cross-sector funding network that supports our members in effectively contributing to the transformation of the Central Appalachian region.We prioritize equal access to the resources, systems, and infrastructure essential to thriving Appalachian communities. Our members include private and family foundations, government agencies, banks, and community development entities. Our region of focus is the Central Appalachian counties of West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.This report addresses the following questions:● What new or existing approaches could address barriers to accessing philanthropic capital, including organizational practices and lack of place-based funders?●  How can existing local assets (e.g., community-based organizations, expertise, space/land, local businesses, services, infrastructure) be fully leveraged to contribute to wellbeing?● What bridges and capacities to accessing federal and private resources and funding need to be strengthened or created?● Does the data gathered reflect the totality of what the audience for this work needs to move forward with decisions about individual or collective investments?● How can the data be presented in the most useful manner for AFN members and partners?● How can the results of this work, and Town Hall/convening synthesis, help lift up and acknowledge local assets to identify and activate social justice investing?

A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting in Ohio

September 25, 2023

Ohio, like many states, has seen its share of gerrymandering. Throughout the state's history, both Republicans and Democrats have sought to strengthen their parties' electoral strength by drawing favorable state legislative and congressional maps. A key component in such partisan self-dealing is the ability of a party to exercise district-drawing power in an unchecked manner.In Ohio, several attempts have been made to transfer the responsibility of district-drawing to a redistricting commission separate from the legislature. Major ballot reforms in 2015 and 2018 to the state legislative and congressional redistricting process became enshrined into the Ohio Constitution by wide popular margins, opening the possibility of a process that could lead to bipartisan cooperation and more representative maps. But power is not ceded willingly, and the post-2020-census redistricting process failed to meet expectations. In this decade, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the maps adopted were illegal gerrymanders by the Ohio Redistricting Commision and General Assembly. But because of restrictions in the state Constitution and time constraints, these maps could not be modified by the court and were used to conduct the 2022 election.Now-retired Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote in her concurring opinion in Leagueof Women Voters of Ohio vs. Ohio Redistricting Commission that "Ohioans may opt to pursue further constitutional amendment to replace the current commission with a truly independent, nonpartisan commission that more effectively distances the redistricting process from partisan politics." In this report, we review how such a commission could operate, and focus on a proposed ballot initiative to create the necessary constitutional mechanism. We also provide a resource for future independent commissioners to consult as they seek to improve the redistricting process in Ohio.This report is intended to serve as an informational resource. We start with a review of how redistricting is done in the United States, including Ohio's current system. Then we review lessons from recently formed independent commissions, using the Michigan and Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions as examples, and take into consideration the unique features of Ohio and its laws and traditions. Next, we elaborate on key factors for a successful independent redistricting process, criteria for legislative and congressional districts, and best practices for commissioners in performing their work. The report offers perspectives for balancing the varied interests that arise to reflect the interests of Ohio's political parties, communities, and individual voters.

Protecting Voter Registration: An Assessment of Voter Purge Policies in Ten States

August 10, 2023

An inclusive democracy demands full access to the ballot by all eligible voters, yet many states use election procedures that create unnecessary burdens on the right to vote. This report focuses on an important but often overlooked voting barrier: voter purges. Too often, registered voters are kicked off the voter rolls in error, with little or no notice and opportunity to correct the error. When these voters show up to the polls, they may be turned away and their voices silenced—even though they are fully eligible to vote.Between the close of registration for the 2020 general election and the close of registration for the 2022 general election, states reported removing 19,260,000 records from their voter registration rolls. This was equal to 8.5% of the total number of voters who were registered in the United States as of the close of registration for the 2022 general election. Of course, some removals are necessary for the proper maintenance of voter rolls, such as for persons who have died or have moved away from their voting jurisdiction. One of the most frequent reasons for purging, however, was "inactivity," or failure to respond to a confirmation notice and not voting in at least two consecutive federal general elections. This reason accounted for more than a quarter of all removals while 26.8% and 25.6% were for address change or death of the registrant, respectively.Flawed voter purge practices–such as removals for inactivity or based on inaccurate identification of felony status or citizenship status—often disproportionately target voters of color, naturalized citizens, and other communities, and can prevent many eligible persons from exercising their right to vote. In addition, too many states lack readily available data on voter purges, which prevents advocates, organizers, and voters from stopping improper purges before they happen or correcting an erroneous purge in time for an election. As a result, tens of thousands of eligible voters who have taken all the necessary steps to exercise their right to vote are wrongly prevented from making their voices heard in our democracy.Dēmos conducted an analysis of voter removal practices, the safeguards in place to protect eligible voters from disenfranchisement, and the accessibility and transparency of voter registration data across ten states: Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin. The voter removal laws we analyzed include both routine list maintenance laws—those allowing election officials to remove voters who have moved, died, or otherwise become ineligible to vote—and more problematic practices, such as laws targeting voters for removal for not voting (also known as a "use it or lose it" process), allowing mass third-party challenges to voters' registrations, and granting catch-all removal authority to election officials without proper safeguards. We evaluated these states on four dimensions:Does the state follow practices that minimize the risk of erroneous removal?Does the state have safeguards in place that allow persons who were erroneously purged to correct their information and vote at election time?Does the state have accessible data on voter removals?Does the state provide transparency on the reasons for removal and other data allowing an analysis of whether removals are improperly targeting specific demographic groups?

Trends in Domestic Violence and Firearm Domestic Violence During COVID‑19 in Five US Cities

July 21, 2023

PurposeThe COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social and economic disruptions may be associated with increased risk for reported domestic violence (DV) and firearm-involved DV (FDV). This study examines trends in DV, FDV, and the proportion of DV incidents that involved firearms (FDV/DV) in five large US cities before and during the coronavirus pandemic.MethodWe examined monthly trends in DV and FDV during January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020, which included the early part of the pandemic, using Poisson or negative binomial regressions. We used binomial regressions to assess trends in FDV/DV. We considered the onset of the pandemic to be March 2020.ResultsFindings varied across outcomes and cities. DV decreased in three cities: Kansas City (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR), 0.88; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.86–0.90), Los Angeles (IRR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.99–1.00), and Nashville (IRR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.99–1.00) relative to trends pre-pandemic. FDV increased in three cities: Chicago (IRR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.02–1.08), Los Angeles (IRR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.06–1.10), and Nashville (IRR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01–1.05) and decreased in one: Kansas City (IRR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.87–0.90). FDV/DV increased in three cities: Chicago (Risk Ratio (RR), 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02–1.06), Los Angeles (RR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.07–1.11), and Nashville (RR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02–1.06).ConclusionsWe found variation among cities in trends in reported DV, FDV, and FDV/DV during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. Variation may be due to a number of factors, including differences in baseline DV and FDV rates; economic strain and unemployment; compliance with social distancing; firearm ownership and purchasing; the availability of DV services; delays in court processing and the early release of prisoners; and community-law enforcement relations.

On the Front Line for Democracy: All Voting is Local and All Voting is Local Action Impact Report, Year One: June 2022-June 2023

July 7, 2023

One year ago, All Voting is Local (All Voting) launched as an independent organization. For the four years prior, we had been part of The Leadership Conference Education Fund, which stood up All Voting in March of 2018 as a collaborative campaign together with the ACLU, the American Constitution Society, the Campaign Legal Center, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Our mission then—as now—was to build, hand in hand with impacted communities, sustained and locally tailored advocacy campaigns focused on state and local election ofcials. Our aim: to ensure that voters, particularly those who have long been cut of from access to the ballot, can cast their vote and know it will count.Through this report, you will have the chance to learn more about the work of the first year of All Voting and AVL Action—our 2022 cycle work starting in June of last year and the organizations' eforts to impact policy and legislation through to publication. You'll hear about our plans for the future, including our "moonshot" of ending election sabotage. 

People + Places, Now + Then: The Kresge Foundation 2022 Annual Report

June 20, 2023

This annual report highlights how work Kresge supported in 2022 invested in people's dreams and communities' aspirations and how Kresge has done so for almost a century. Five immersive multimedia stories center on partners in Memphis, Detroit, Toledo and Atlanta.

Tobacco 21 Policy Evaluation: Reducing Youth Tobacco Use Through Policy Change in Greater Cincinnati

April 18, 2023

From 2019-2022, Interact for Health partnered with the Center for Public Health Systems Science at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis to conduct an evaluation of policy efforts in southwest Ohio to increase the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 (known as Tobacco 21) and related enforcement strategies. Findings and lessons learned illuminate the role local laws play in protecting youth in our communities, what it takes to move through the policymaking lifecycle, and the policy's impact - including a decrease of 27% in ease-of-access to tobacco products among Cincinnati youth from 2018 to 2022.

Behavioral Health in Ohio: Improving Data, Moving Toward Racial & Ethnic Equity - Report 1: An Overview of Opportunities

January 18, 2023

This report, the first of four, highlights the need for more comprehensive behavioral health data describing the experiences of marginalized racial and ethnic groups. These groups, generally, have worse outcomes in terms of behavioral health than the White population. However, the existing data are not detailed enough to fully address the disparities.

Mental Health and Well-Being in Greater Cincinnati: Everyday Expert Perspectives

January 18, 2023

Interact for Health partnered with Cohear to gather insights on the mental health and well-being of  community members across the region.

Clean Jobs Midwest 2022 Report

December 12, 2022

Clean Jobs Midwest is an annual report based on survey data on clean energy employment in 12 Midwestern states.These states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The Midwest's clean energy industry employed 714,323 people in sectors including renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, advanced transportation, grid and storage, and clean fuels at the end of 2021.