People. Progress. Results.

The Health of State Democracies

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on August 18, 2015 at 6:35 PM

CAP Action releases The Health of State Democracies on July 7, 2015.

CAP Action released a huge report today - The Health of State Democracies, which ranks ALL 50 STATES across 22 factors in the 3 categories of accessibility of the ballot, representation in state government, and influence in the political system, with each state also getting a grade for each category.

The report comes with a lot of resources including a great interactive website

Please contact Sarah Baron,, or Emma Shapiro,, if you have any questions.

Resources include:

  • sample tweets
  • key messages and findings
  • shareable graphic

Washington Post - Is this cold, rural state home to the nation’s healthiest democracy?

Washington Post - Morning Plum: Voting access sucks throughout the south, new report finds

Tweets #HealthyDemocracy

Key Messages

  • Too often in America, access to the freedoms and privileges guaranteed under the Constitution are determined by zip code. These access to voting rights, representation in government, or the outsized influence of money in our political system, and we must look at these in sum to find effective solutions.
  • Every state can take concrete steps to improve the health of its democracy. Top-ranked Maine still scored poorly on Motor Voter implementation, while Alabama, dead last overall, is much better on certain influence measures.
  • There are recurring and sometimes growing issues which plague our system as a whole, including poor representation of communities of color and women, and the influence of money in politics. Any effort to effectively address the health of state democracies must adequately tackle these issues.

Key Findings

  • Every state has room for improvement. From the highest-rank states to the lowest, each state can take concrete steps to improve its residents’ democratic experience. Maine, the top-ranked state in this report, still scored poorly on factors such as Motor Voter implementation and online voter registration. Alabama, in the bottom slot, performs well in certain aspects, including having a two-year revolving door ban.
  • States previously covered by Voting Rights Act preclearance requirements perform poorly in accessibility of the ballot measures. While several of these states may perform well in other categories, each of the nine states previously fully covered by pre-clearance requirements perform poorly in accessibility of the ballot: all nine of these states rank in the bottom half of state scores for this category, with none receiving a grade higher than D+.
  • States have a great deal of room to improve to ensure that elected leaders reflect state demographics as a whole. There is no state in which women are over-represented in office, and only two – Vermont and Mississippi – in which people of color are represented in elective offices at or above their share of the population at large.
  • The strength of laws related to influence in the political system are a particular weak spot for states. Just one state received an “A-“ grade in this category, fewer than any other category. Four state received an “A” or “A-“ grade in representation in state government, and five received an “A” or “A-“ in accessibility of the ballot.