By Anh-Linh Kearney, Policy Analyst
and Dave O'Brien, Policy Director

November 17, 2023

🎉States of Reform is a first-of-its-kind report to show both the progress and obstacles the pro-democracy movement encountered over the past year. Read on to discover how lawmakers tried to strengthen or undermine democracy across the country in 2023.

Laboratories of Democracy

Presidential executive orders and bills making their way through Congress may grab the headlines, but the things that affect us most are usually closer to home. 

When former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis referred to individual states as the “laboratories” of democracy, it was for good reason. It’s important for states to have the freedom to innovate, and when a reform succeeds other states can follow their lead. That is the RepresentUs theory of change, and that’s why it’s so important to pay attention to what’s happening in the states.

At RepresentUs, we believe that reform starts at the local level. We build momentum by going around the dysfunction in Washington and partnering with state and local groups throughout the country. 

We monitor good government and anti-democracy legislation across the country. And while we’ve noticed growing support among legislators for proposals to improve the political process, we’ve also seen proposals that would block or reverse those improvements. But we aren’t discouraged! A reform’s increasing popularity is often coupled with increasing opposition, and that’s evidence of a movement on the rise. 

The Year in Reform 2023

Today, we’re launching the first-of-its-kind report to show both the progress and obstacles the pro-democracy movement encountered over the past year. There have been victories and setbacks, but elected officials are debating structural democracy reforms in almost every state in the country. We’ve been paying attention, and now you can too.  

Here are some toplines that stuck out to us:

  • Legislators introduced bills and resolutions around Ranked Choice Voting in thirty-seven states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
  • While several states introduced bills to hamstring the ballot initiative process, nine states introduced legislation to create or resurrect the initiative process.
  • Many states are also considering emerging structural reforms, including changes to primary elections, campaign finance reform, and increasing voting access.

But don’t take our word for it. Are you ready to take a look under the hood of the pro-democracy movement?

Read the report

RepresentUs is America’s leading anti-corruption organization working city-by-city, state-by-state to fix our broken political system.