Exploring critical issues facing our democracy and searching for solutions.

What is the Democracy Solutions Project?
Through stories, listening experiences, opinion pieces and news, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times will take a solutions-oriented approach to reporting on the critical issues facing American democracy today. The yearlong special project – in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government, with funding support from the Pulitzer Center – examines the current threats to our democracy, including barriers to voting, cynicism, misinformation, polarization and much more.

Special Reporting

Reporters traveled to Colombia and Canada to understand how countries outside of the United States are managing an influx of migrants and resettling refugees. What lessons can Chicago learn?

Immigration Series: Canada
Canada is known for its friendlier approach to immigration, but it also faces hurdles as record numbers of people are displaced globally.
But while many praise Canada’s Express Entry system as speedier than the months-long wait to get a work permit in the United States, immigrants can face hurdles finding pay and job titles equivalent to the ones in their native countries.
As Chicago dealt with a shortage of shelter beds, Toronto was also managing a shelter crisis amid an increase in people seeking refuge in Canada.
Three refugees from Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda share their stories about fleeing their countries for safety in Canada.
Immigration Series: Colombia
The small, relatively poor South American country has received four times more Venezuelans than the United States but offers a path to integration. We went to see it.
More Coverage
We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think is wrong with our democracy and share how you think we can fix it.
Opinions
Misinformation and disinformation are spreading like wildfire. The best way to combat the lies is with information literacy that helps us ferret out the truth — and keep democracy safe from the threat of malicious lies
The ruling delays the election interference case against Donald Trump. But the biggest casualty with the court’s latest ruling is to our democracy.
The court overturned another decades-old precedent, the Chevron deference. Opponents of all kinds of regulations meant to protect ordinary Americans will now be able to tie up proposed rules in court for years.
If they truly want to clear up any “misunderstandings,” Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. should meet with lawmakers about the Alito flag controversy and court ethics in general.
Voter turnout is always low in primary elections, and Tuesday was an extreme example. Ranked choice voting is one idea that could boost turnout and decrease partisanship and negative campaigning.
What’s really needed is to shore up local news. Voters say they don’t have access to clear, unbiased information on candidates amid a well-documented decline of local newspapers and news media.
Tres refugiados de Kenia, Nigeria y Uganda comparten sus historias sobre la huida de sus países en busca de seguridad en Canadá.
People who read don’t censor books, writes Natalie Moore, who talked with the former head of the American Library Association about the current wave of book bans across the country.
Whether they’re lobbying Congress on climate change or fighting poverty, they learned how to use their voices for positive change, the author of “Reclaiming Our Democracy” writes.
Threats and harassment are more common against officeholders who are people of color, a University of Illinois Chicago professor writes.
This is not some dry, academic question, writes Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service. It’s an issue in the upcoming presidential election, with profound consequences for the capability of our government to solve critical problems.
Four Illinois counties have no local news source, the State of Local News Project found. When that happens, people can’t participate meaningfully in their local communities and democratic institutions.
Why Government is Failing the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better with Jennifer Pahlka on March 27.
A Brookings Institution expert explains why seniority in Congress has clear benefits for individual members and their constituents.
Many voters told the Sun-Times they would feel more assured in their picks — and, experts say, a significant share of non-voters might be more inclined to join the process — if they had better access to clear, unbiased information to help them make choices.
Lawmakers across the country are finagling ways to give themselves an edge in elections, which erodes the rights of voters to representatives of their choice. Solutions: The U.S. Supreme Court could step in, or states could agree to have congressional maps drawn by an independent commission.
Here’s a guide to casting your ballot — whether you’re looking to register to vote, vote by mail or vote in person.
The March 19 primary is approaching, and the November general election after that. Election officials are offering incentives to attract judges
Finding enough election judges has become increasingly challenging. Officials have tried increasing pay and tapping groups such as veterans and high school students and more.
More states and localities are adopting small donor matching. A growing body of evidence shows it can deepen voter engagement and counteract the influence of big money, a Brennan Center expert writes.
The voices of ordinary people often are muffled in political campaigns, as candidates are deluged with cash from wealthy donors.
Whether Trump should be kicked off ballots under the 14th Amendment gets to the heart of what makes our democracy tick: free and fair elections among candidates who, at the least, meet basic qualifications to hold a particular office.
Primary meddling, dark money and self-funding loopholes help skew Illinois politics to favor moneyed candidates. But there are also solutions — like fighting big money with public funding of campaigns.