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Democracy Beyond Elections wants to transform democracy with community led decision making

by | Aug 15, 2022 | Elections | 0 comments

Democracy Beyond Elections is a nationwide organization that is devoted to pursuing a democracy “rooted in community-led decision making.” Their involvement includes expanding and equipping citizens, especially marginalized citizens, with the “tools, resources, and opportunities to deeply engage in democratic processes.” They are partnered with numerous organizations such as the Center for Popular Democracy and the Participatory Budgeting Project.  As an organization, its goals include building partnerships and collaboration, developing campaign strategy, and launching community programs. They emphasize the importance of community decisions and participatory budgeting to make meaningful impacts such as allocating American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to create a more equitable democracy. 

Beyond participatory budgeting, Democracy Beyond Elections also stresses participatory policy making. Their participatory policy-making model includes the community themselves and their community policy team, aiming to learn together as a cohort to determine what is best for their community. They have a three-principle model of policy-making. The first principle is equitability. They believe that the community affected by the political decision has a voice. Each community member should have a role in the policies made. The second principle is accessibility. Democracy Beyond Elections strives to give the community tools to help them influence decisions made. These tools include knowledge of the issue as well as information on the current governmental policies. The third principle is significance. Democracy Beyond Elections holds each participatory policy to a serious level that has a tangible impact. 

Democracy Beyond Elections has also created a design of what the participatory policy-making model looks like: 1) design the process of the policy, 2) get engaged with the community, 3) have meetings with the community policy team, 4) learn more about the policies and issues together as a community, 5) develop the policy recommendations, 6) vote on these policies, 7) implement the final vote selected, and 8) analyze the impacts of the policy together. Democracy Beyond Elections applies these models through programs and events for the community, such as policy-making learning exchanges and toolkits for virtual engagement. 



Sanjana Sitaram

Sanjana Sitaram

Sanjana Sitaram is a junior at Brentwood High School in Tennessee. She was born in Singapore and has lived in Germany, England, and now the United States. These global experiences have given her an appreciation to recognize and understand the differences in cultures and peoples. Sanjana enjoys public forum debates, and also has a passion for Bharatanatyam, India’s oldest classical dance. In her spare time, she finds it fulfilling to teach refugees in Nashville basic English and Math skills, helping them have a stronger foundation in education and become more acclimated to a new environment. Sanjana is a Political Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.


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