Influence in the Political System
United States
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Even with accessible voting laws and relatively representative state governments, those who are in power must be held accountable to the will of the citizens—particularly when two-thirds of Americans believe the system is rigged to give the wealthy more influence in the political system than everyone else, according to a June 2015 New York Times poll. It is critical that states employ a robust set of measures to ensure that state officials cannot turn a government of, by, and for the people into a government of, by, and for their own interests and those of their financial backers.

Undergirding all of these issues, however, is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This decision, which has fundamentally altered the campaign finance landscape in this country, necessarily limits any state’s ability to truly reform its influence politics. Thus, metrics in this category are inherently a function of mitigation, assessing the extent to which states have attempted—in spite of Citizens United—to manage and reform the role of influence in the political system.

Policy Recommendations

Click through the Influence factors to the right of the map to view specific policy recommendations for each area. Click here to see a full list of policy recommendations to improve the health of state democracies based on the findings of this report.

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