Ross Trudeau Honors 50 Years of Common Cause with “Write-In Democracy” Puzzle

This puzzle was created for Common Cause members as we celebrate the past, focus on the present, and plan 50 more years of protecting democracy. Scroll down and solve the clues to get the answers to the Write-in Democracy puzzle.

Write-In Democracy

Solve the puzzle and read the story below on Ross Trudeau and his generous gift to Common Cause members for our 50 More Years celebration.

Crossword Constructor Ross Trudeau says, “The act of creating a crossword is decidedly undemocratic. Alone at our laptops, constructors decide whether a word is ‘common,’ or whether a name or title is ‘well-known’ enough to belong in a puzzle. These decisions are informed exclusively by our own lived experiences unless we reach out for (and accept) the input of collaborators.”

If you speak the language of the New York Times Crossword, as in, “I do the Sunday in pen, never pencil,” or “He’s a Tuesday puzzler,” then you might consider Trudeau a celebrity or identify as a groupie. For those who don’t know him by name, his work has likely frustrated you once or twice, perhaps even caused you to blurt out curse words that alarmed anyone close by.


Trudeau lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his lively cat Ruby who insists on helping with the puzzlers to get more cat clues in each one. His crosswords have appeared in outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Universal Crossword, The Southampton Review, METER Magazine, and other print and online sources.

Hannah Smolar, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at Common Cause, reached out to Trudeau and upon learning it was the democracy organization’s 50th anniversary, Trudeau offered the gift of his genius to help our members and supporters celebrate. The puzzle “Write-in Democracy” was created by Trudeau and edited by Smolar and her friend Zack Schlosberg.

“A democracy is a collaboration”, Trudeau said, adding that, “in checking my assumptions and my biases about what is crossword-worthy and what is not. These days I spend equal time making puzzles and cultivating partnerships with collaborators–women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks–who are in a position to help me produce puzzles that welcome and challenge and delight as many solvers as possible.”

“My hopes for our own democracy aren’t entirely dissimilar. The more voices we include, the more equitable and robust the system becomes. Plus, the tent is going to have to be pretty big if we want to fit everyone inside with six feet of personal space,” Trudeau said.

While you are working this very special puzzle, Common Cause staff are working hard to protect democracy make sure our elections in the era of COVID-19 are fair, accessible, meet the best practices of states that have experience with vote-by-mail, and that each state finds its best possible plan for expanded early voting, or no-excuse absentee, and vote-by-mail. Every state must do something to make certain every eligible voter who wants to cast a ballot can do it without risking their health. We all saw many brave voters in Wisconsin in early April, but they shouldn’t have had to risk their lives — that election could have been postponed. Fixing the system by November is a New York Times Sunday-level puzzle for sure, but Common Cause has been finding solutions to complex challenges in our democracy for 50 years. With your help, we will solve this one, too.

Trudeau mentors aspiring crossword constructors. If you’re interested in learning how to make crossword puzzles, contact Ross via his puzzle site, You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter and the Facebooks.

Check out the “Common Cause 50 More Years” page and make sure you are on our list or connect on social media and read Democracy Wire for the latest updates on our work protecting democracy in these challenging times and updates on ways we are marking our 50th Anniversary. We will be rescheduling events around the country (the DC event has been rescheduled to November 19). We look forward to seeing many of our supporters over the next year as we come together to celebrate the past, focus on the present, and for 50 more years of protecting democracy. Reach out to Lashanda Jackson, Vice President of Development, to learn more about anniversary events.