This election season, it’ll be easy to get lost in the din of the horse race: who won a debate, who responded best to Trump’s latest tweet, and who’s up in the polls. We’re launching an ambitious project to pursue election coverage that keeps the most important question front and center.
This is the question Americans must answer in deciding the future of the country. States are pushing voter suppression schemes at levels unseen since Reconstruction. Legislatures are redrawing districts to suit their partisan needs. Immigrants are being sorted into “good” and “bad.” Money and power are concentrated among the few, while many communities are seeing their voices diminished. The 2020 election, whether for city council or president of the United States, is a referendum on these issues. The battles over voting rights, immigration, the census, gerrymandering, and representation all come down to decisions over who counts as an American and who is excluded.
We need your help to aggressively cover this central question over the next 13 months. Newsrooms across the country are bleeding. Thousands of journalism jobs have been eliminated over the past decade, and this year is on pace to see the greatest decline since 2009. That has created a dire shortage of people and resources to navigate these essential issues—just when they have become more complicated and overshadowed in a chaotic news cycle. We want to help fill that gap.
Your support will let us assign more stories, travel to overlooked places, commission special podcast projects, pay for the additional reporting—and the work of more journalists—we otherwise would not be able to do.
Here’s what we want to dig into:
• We’ll tell the stories of people who are counting for less than they should, because of suppression, citizenship status, immigration status, or simply where they live.
• We’ll track the growing criminalization of voter mistakes as people across the country face jail time and steep fines for unintentional violations.
• We’ll follow fights over efforts to restore the franchise to former felons, to lower the eligible voter age, and to make it easier for people to register.
• We’ll investigate states’ efforts to redraw their districts and who is represented within them.
• We’ll examine the donor class, the rarified group of Americans whose money and influence have overtaken the public interest.
• We’ll explore how the federal government is and isn’t working, from the makeup of the Senate to the persistence of the Electoral College, and interrogate whether change is possible.
Who Gets to Be American?
• We’ll profile diverse communities, towns, and counties as they prepare for the census.
• We’ll report on the repercussions of the crackdown on newly arriving refugees and longtime undocumented residents—and how those groups are responding.
• We’ll give voice to communities that feel boxed out by our political system and are in danger of giving up.
Do You Count?
• We’ll give you tools to easily understand the daunting labyrinth of quickly changing laws that affect your vote and point you toward the right resources to ensure your vote counts.
• We’ll let you know just how much your vote is worth compared with those of other Americans.
• We also want to hear from you. Think we should cover something going on in your community? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.