SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images // Mark Wilson/Getty Images


While much of the national focus was on the Democratic candidates vying for the nomination to take on President Donald Trump in November, there were a wealth of down-ballot primaries that could reshape Congress in a similar manner to the 2018 midterm elections.

One of those primary candidates is M.J. Hegar, the air force combat veteran whose "Doors" ad went viral in 2018 during her run for Congress.

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RENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images // Gerry Font

Gerrymandering—the practice of deceptively drawing congressional districts to give one party an electoral advantage—has plagued American democracy for over a century. Boundaries are drawn illogically for the sole purpose of including voters of one party in order to give that district a partisan hold.

In the United States, the unethical practice has largely benefitted Republicans. Just last month, the majority Republican-appointed Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can't intervene with partisan gerrymandering at the state level, despite gerrymandering producing an overwhelming amount of Republican state legislatures.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (C) is joined by (L-R) Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) for a news conference in the House Vistiors Center in the U.S. Capitol March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. In a big setback to the agenda of President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Republicans cancelled a vote for the American Health Care Act, the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also called 'Obamacare.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

After flipping the House of Representatives from red to blue in the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats vowed to tackle voter suppression as their first act. The midterm elections were fraught with charges of voter suppression in several states including North Dakota, Florida, Georgia and Ohio.

Some went to court and prevailed on the side of voting rights while others upheld attempts to suppress largely minority voting rights.

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For the first time, Maine’s US Senate race between Democratic challenger Zak Ringelstein, incumbent independent Senator Angus King and Republican challenger Eric Brakey will be decided with ranked choice voting. (Photo credits Ringelstein for Senate, Natl. Archives and Brakey for Senate)

"As Maine goes, so goes the nation" was a common phrase in United States politics back in the mid-1800s up until the early 20th century. Could that phrase make a comeback after November 2018?

In the 2018 primaries, Maine deployed a new voting system to determine candidates for Governor, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate for the November midterms. The new system is called ranked choice voting.

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November 2015: Candidate Donald Trump appears to mock Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter who suffers from arthrogryposis, a condition which limits the movement of joints and is particularly noticeable in Kovaleski’s right arm and hand. (Screenshot via Youtube)

In 2017, the GOP moved to erode voting rights, Medicare, Meals on Wheels, access to education, and other protections — including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

When Donald Trump cruelly mocked a disabled reporter on the campaign trail in 2016, disabled people took notice, and were dismayed to realize that they were among the “undesirables” the candidate and his party were targeted for future harm. The first year of the Trump administration has made the threat real, as Trump and the GOP Congress have pursued legislation that will put limits on access to health care, education, opportunities, and voting rights for Americans with disabilities. Even the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is in the crosshairs.

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Mathias Appel/Flickr.

Looking for a way to avoid Russian interference in elections? African wild dogs in Botswana have figured out a tamper-resistant way to make democracy work. These endangered animals “vote” on whether to begin hunting by making noises that sound like sneezes.

Neil Jordan, a fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and his team followed five packs of African wild dogs for nearly a year, observing their social behavior. The results were published earlier this month in Proceedings of the Society B.

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If you have a good understanding of cartography and politics, you could easily have found work in any of the US state capitals over the last decade. The refined art of gerrymandering, defined as the practice of dividing an area into political units to give one party an electoral majority, is becoming ever more sophisticated in the era of supercomputers, algorithms and partisan politics.

Gerrymandering has a long and ignoble history. The term was coined in 1812 when Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry carved a salamander-shaped district in his state to aid the Democratic-Republican Party originally founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

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