WASHINGTON — The capital’s shutdowns and showdowns have tested the patience even of the Senate chaplain. “Save us from the madness,” he prayed at the opening of one session last week. But how, exactly?
The roots of the nation’s polarized and sometimes paralyzed politics, decades in the making, are too complex and far-reaching to be easily reversed or resolved. Even so, some political scientists and politicians argue that making simple changes — expanding who can vote in primary elections, for instance, or rethinking how legislative districts are drawn — could make a difference in the kind of government that follows.
A nationwide USA TODAY/Bipartisan Policy Center poll finds a majority of Americans support a range of proposals aimed at easing hyper-partisanship and building confidence in elections. Some command the sort of broad bipartisan backing rare in national politics.
Allow independents to vote in primaries? Yes. Require photo IDs to curb voter fraud? Definitely. Find an alternative to having legislatures draw congressional districts? Maybe. Vote over the Internet? Well, no.
The survey of 1,000 adults by Republican pollster Whit Ayres and Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, taken Sept. 19-23, has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.
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