Voting & Elections

The right to vote is the guardian of all other rights. It is also under attack in many states. And President Trump, invoking false claims of widespread fraud, is poised to weaken federal voter protections.

Legislative Reform of the Electoral Process

12/3/18  //  Latest Developments

Here are the contributions from our recent symposium in collaboration with the Election Law Blog

Take Care

Performance Standards and Design Standards in New Election Legislation

11/27/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Congress might learn a lesson from the structure of the Voting Rights Act, even beyond its substance.

Justin Levitt

Loyola Law School

Four Priorities for H.R. 1

11/21/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

By Campaign Legal Center: Here are the highest priorities for legislative reform on campaign finance, voting rights, redistricting, and ethics

Take Care

A Grand Election Bargain That Everyone Should Support

11/20/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Congress should reform voter registration while imposing reasonable voter identification requirements in federal elections

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio State, Moritz College of Law

New Directions For Election-Law Reform

11/19/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

It's time to consider some unfamiliar suggestions for election reform

Richard H. Pildes

NYU Law School

How Congress Can Use Its Constitutional Powers to Guarantee Voting Rights for All

11/19/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Constitution explicitly gives Congress sweeping powers to protect the right to vote

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ordered all 18 Republican-drawn districts to be redrawn, following a finding that they violate the Constitution. Potential citizenship questions on the 2020 Census could shift the balance of political power towards rural areas and give Republicans a new advantage in drawing electoral boundaries.

Updates | The Week of January 15, 2018

1/14/18  //  Daily Update

The White House disbands the "Election Integrity" Commission led by Vice President Pence and Kris Kobach.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Updates | The Week of December 18, 2017

12/24/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump's voter fraud commission has not been in communication since September, and members are not sure why. The Department of Homeland Security, the Election Assistance Commission and voting equipment industry and nonprofit groups met to launch an election security Sector Coordinating Council.

Update | The Week of November 27, 2017

12/4/17  //  Daily Update

Some Alabama voters have received erroneous messages saying that they are not registered to vote. The D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge to separate federal campaign contribution limits in primary and general elections.

Jeffrey Stein

Columbia Law School

Updates | The Week of November 20, 2017

11/26/17  //  Daily Update

A member of the President's election fraud commission announced that he is seeking an injunction requiring the commission to release working documents. DOJ officials indicated the commission will not meet again until next year.

Updates | The Week of October 23, 2017

10/31/17  //  Daily Update

The Congressional Accountability Office will investigate the President's voter fraud commission. Commentators and the Commission's Democratic members remain frustrated by its lack of transparency.

The Sessions DOJ Turns a Blind Eye to Discrimination

3/22/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

In the landmark Texas Voter ID case, DOJ has begun its official retreat from the protection of minority voting rights. This is the wrong decision and an ominous sign for the future.

Danielle Lang

The Campaign Legal Center

Election Equipment Vendors Play a Key, and Underexamined, Role in U.S. Democracy

9/17/18  //  Commentary

A major effort to bar independent research into the efficacy and security of American voting equipment is underway right now.

No, Department of Justice, a Law Designed to Discriminate Against Minority Voters Should Not Remain on the Books

7/10/17  //  Commentary

In a challenge to Texas's strict voter ID law, DOJ has just turned its back on minority voters and victims of discrimination in Texas.

Danielle Lang

The Campaign Legal Center

Trump Jr. and Citizens United

7/13/17  //  Commentary

In a perfect world, federal election law would distinguish between foreign governments involving themselves in U.S. elections and foreign nationals doing so. Unfortunately, we don't live in that perfect world because of the Supreme Court.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Abbott v. Perez:  Bad Reading Invites Discriminatory Redistricting

7/6/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Ironically but thankfully, the result of Justice Alito's deeply mistaken analysis in Abbott v. Perez is an opinion that makes less bad law than it might have.

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio State, Moritz College of Law

The Value of Gerrymandering

10/7/17  //  Commentary

What is the value to democracy from political gerrymandering for partisan advantage? The intuitive answer is the right one: None.

G. Michael Parsons

Private Practice

Allowing Felons to Vote Could Prevent Crime

7/27/17  //  Commentary

The case against felon disenfranchisement is overwhelming as a matter of public policy. This matters for the constitutional analysis.

Nancy Leong

Sturm College of Law

Versus Trump: Voting Wars and Justice Scalia, with Rick Hasen

3/29/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

On a new episode of Versus Trump, Jason talks to Rick Hasen, a leading election law scholar and purveyor of the Election Law Blog, about what's going on at the voting booth, possible campaign finance law violations by both Trump and Clinton in the 2016 cycle, and Justice Scalia, who is the subject of Rick's new book, The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption. Listen now!

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

Versus Trump: 2017 Scorecard

1/4/18  //  Uncategorized

On the first episode of Versus Trump of 2018, Jason and Charlie look back at Versus Trump cases in 2017 and score them as Administration wins, losses, or not-yet-decided. They also look ahead at big issues to come in 2018. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

Court Affirms Government’s Interest in Protecting Voting Process

6/14/18  //  Commentary

By Adav Noti: In Minnesota Voters Alliance v Mansky, the Supreme Court avoided the pitfall of expanding its conceptually unsound campaign finance jurisprudence into a new area

Take Care

This Week’s Blockbuster SCOTUS Cases Share a Troublesome Common Issue

4/24/18  //  Commentary

Both the travel ban case and the Texas redistricting litigation raise questions about the staying power of discriminatory intent.

Justin Levitt

Loyola Law School

Facts Matter—Even if the Sessions Department of Justice Doesn’t Realize It

4/26/17  //  Commentary

Just 100 days into the Trump Administration—the Administration that gave rise to the concept of #AlternativeFacts—there is reason to worry that facts don’t matter to the Justice Department now led by Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Brianne J. Gorod

Constitutional Accountability Center

Versus Trump: Versus Kobach

7/20/17  //  Commentary

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, we discuss the litigation against the newly-created Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, that has Kansas Secretary of State—and repeat defendant in voting rights litigation—Kris Kobach as its now-infamous Vice Chair. Listen now!

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Kris Kobach is a Menace to Democracy. Boycott his Vote-Rigging Commission.

5/11/17  //  Quick Reactions

By Jed Shugerman. Trump is using the Comey firestorm as a smoke screen for a potentially more dangerous move: appointing Kris Kobach vice chair of a new “election integrity” commission, with Mike Pence as chair. Kobach will make it a voter-suppression/vote rigging commission, fomenting anti-immigrant and racist fears.

Take Care

Arresting the Deterioration of Democracy

3/31/17  //  Commentary

Troubling signs abound for American constitutional democracy. It isn't (yet) too late to halt the decline. But that will require the creation and implementation of a robust democracy agenda.

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio State, Moritz College of Law

District Court Holds that Texas Discriminated Against Minority Voters, Again.

4/11/17  //  Quick Reactions

Cutting-edge analysis by Gerry Hebert and Danielle Lang of yesterday's ruling that the controversial Texas Voter ID law was enacted with racially discriminatory intent.

Danielle Lang

The Campaign Legal Center

All Your Voter Data Are Belong To Us

6/30/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Kris Kobach just asked for help building a national voter file in two weeks. That’s massively irresponsible. And it might well be illegal.

Justin Levitt

Loyola Law School

Versus Trump: Where There's A Gil... (On Partisan Gerrymandering)

6/29/17  //  Commentary

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, we discuss a lurking issue with opposing Trump in upcoming elections: partisan gerrymandering. Charlie and Easha take a close look at the case of Gil v. Whitford, a case the Supreme Court recently announced it will take up next fall. In Gil, the Supreme Court may boldly announce a new rule that might seriously curb partisan gerrymandering—or the Court may entirely stop courts from being able to hear these cases at all. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Versus Trump: The Citizenship Question

4/5/18  //  Commentary

On a new episode of Versus Trump, Jason and Easha discuss lawsuits challenging the Trump Administration's decision to ask a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. Listen now!

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Raising Red Flags about Shelby County

10/15/18  //  Commentary

Although Shelby County had a dramatic and immediate real-world impact, its future doctrinal importance is likely minimal.

Travis Crum

University of Chicago

Reforming Elections Through Legislation

11/14/18  //  Latest Developments

We are pleased to announce a mini-symposium in collaboration with the Election Law Blog

Take Care

Joshua Matz

Publisher

DOJ and the Voter Rolls

7/5/18  //  Commentary

In voting rights, as elsewhere, there’s plenty of reason to stay woke. But if you’re looking for evidence of the crumbling of the Republic, the recent voter roll settlement in Kentucky isn’t the place to start.

Justin Levitt

Loyola Law School

Sessions Changed DOJ's Longstanding Position on Voter Purges in a Key SCOTUS Case.

9/26/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Now former DOJ officials are calling him on it.

Samuel Bagenstos

University of Michigan Law School

The Voting Rights Agenda Must Include Felon Reenfranchisement

7/10/17  //  Commentary

As disenfranchisement and voter suppression efforts are on the rise, one partial response is reenfranchisement.

Nancy Leong

Sturm College of Law

A Department of Justice, But For Whom?

4/7/17  //  Commentary

A letter about how to fix DOJ’s Civil Rights Division simultaneously maintains that we live in a “post-racial world” and urges the Division to take measures that will disenfranchise people of color.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

States Can Require Financial Disclosure by Presidential Candidates to Safeguard Electoral Transparency

4/6/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Many states are considering bills requiring future federal presidential candidates to release tax returns, or comparable information, in order to be listed on the ballot. Such requirements are good policy and should be upheld under the Constitution.

Danielle Lang

The Campaign Legal Center

Echoes of History in Objections to Federal Enforcement of Voting Rights

4/21/17  //  Commentary

A letter about how to fix DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has some interesting parallels to a recent voting rights dissent.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Information Wars Part I: The Challenge To The Census

4/13/17  //  Commentary

The Trump administration has enacted several policies to conceal, subvert, or manipulate information. It has retracted a proposal to add LGBTQ identification to the U.S. census and eliminated LGBTQ identification from HHS surveys. These policies and others attempt to deny the existence of a problem by disappearing the (inconvenient) facts.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Helen Klein Murillo

Harvard Law School '17

Treason and Cyberwarfare

7/27/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

By Carlton Larson: There are two forms of treason recognized under the United States Constitution: (1) levying war against the United States; and (2) adhering to our enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Each raises slightly different issues with respect to cyberwarfare.

Take Care

If You’re Minnesota Nice, You Can Wear Whatever You Want to the Polls

6/14/18  //  Quick Reactions

By Ilya Shapiro: SCOTUS has ruled that a Minnesota law banning 'political' apparel at polling places violates the First Amendment

Take Care

The House Should Pass an Effects-Test Bail-in Provision

11/15/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Congress should revise Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act to expand the circumstances in which courts can impose preclearance requirements

Travis Crum

University of Chicago

Versus Trump: The Voting Wars (Interview With Marc Elias)

8/17/17  //  Commentary

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, we have an interview about voting laws and litigation with former Hillary for America General Counsel and current voting rights superlawyer Marc Elias. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Versus Trump: The Collusion Lawsuit

7/27/17  //  Uncategorized

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Charlie and Easha discuss a newly-filed lawsuit brought by private plaintiffs who allege that Trump's campaign and Trump advisor Roger Stone conspired with Russians to disclose private information about the plaintiffs. Listen now!

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Resisting Calls for Illegal Hiring Practices at DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

4/11/17  //  Commentary

Even in these strange and trying times, we would like to think that our Attorney General will follow the law while staffing the division of DOJ charged with realizing the Constitution’s promise of a democracy that’s worth a damn—one open to all citizens, regardless of the color of their skin.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Versus Trump: N.Y. Versus Wilbur Ross

10/11/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week's episode of Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie talk about the fight over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's potential testimony in an important lawsuit over the census. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

The Validity of Stopping Voter Suppression

11/14/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Now that Democrats have taken the House, it’s time to start thinking about stopping voter suppression through legislation—via laws instead of lawsuits

Nicholas Stephanopoulos

UChicago Law School

Justice Kennedy, The First Amendment, and Partisan Gerrymandering

10/4/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

By David Gans: Will Justice Kennedy carve out a partisan redistricting exception from foundational First Amendment principles?

Take Care

A Brief and Obvious, But Nonetheless Necessary, Observation About Today's SCOTUS decision in the Ohio Voter Registration Case

6/11/18  //  Quick Reactions

I wouldn't accuse any of the justices of voting in voting rights cases based on a conscious calculation of what's best for the Republican or Democratic Party. But an inference of at least subconscious bias certainly fits the facts.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Versus Trump: So, Can California Really Do That?

10/5/17  //  Commentary

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Charlie and Jason discuss a recently-passed bill awaiting the signature of California Governor Jerry Brown that, if signed into law, would require presidential candidates to disclose five years of federal of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot in California. Jason and Charlie ask each other whether California has the constitutional power to do that, and, if so, whether it's a good idea. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

Kobach’s 'Election Integrity' Commission Is Founded on a Big Lie to the American Public

7/7/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The commission is not truly bipartisan and is based on false assertions of widespread voter fraud.

Danielle Lang

The Campaign Legal Center

Court Finds Discriminatory Purpose in Law Backed by Sessions DOJ

8/28/17  //  Commentary

DOJ's troubling shift on voting rights rightly failed to save a discriminatory Texas law

President Trump’s Election Commission Has Already Violated Federal Law

7/5/17  //  Commentary

Larry Schwartztol of Protect Democracy on how Kris Kobach's request for voter information violated federal law.

Take Care

Shifting the Burden and Striking a Balance

11/16/18  //  Commentary

It's no easy task to design effective voting rights legislation that can withstand Supreme Court review

Lisa Manheim

UW School of Law

The Commission to Round Up the Usual Suspects

5/12/17  //  Commentary

The President's Commission On Voter Fraud Is Not Designed To Seek Data. Instead, The Commission Has Preordained Conclusions It Will Recommend.

Justin Levitt

Loyola Law School

Partisan Gerrymandering Returns to the Supreme Court

3/27/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Partisan gerrymandering at its core is viewpoint discrimination pure and simple, and it cannot be squared with our Constitution’s promise that voters choose their representatives, not the other way around.

Updates | The Week of April 10, 2017

4/16/17  //  Daily Update

This week, a federal judge found a discriminatory purpose behind Texas's Voter ID law. On Take Care, Joshua Matz and Leah Litman argue that the Trump Administration's plans for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division raise grave concerns. Joshua Matz also notes the concern expressed by advocacy groups over Attorney General Jeff Sessions' lack of commitment to protecting voting rights.

Updates | The Week of October 30, 2017

11/5/17  //  Daily Update

Reports indicate that the Crosscheck system promoted by Kris Kobach, vice chair of President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, as a tool to purge voter rolls, has a 99% false positive rate.

Updates | The Week of July 10, 2017

6/27/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump's voter fraud commission continued to draw significant opposition and criticism, including some resistance from Republican state officials.

Updates | The Week of June 12, 2017

6/18/17  //  Daily Update

Kris Kobach, appointed by the President, seeks to pass more restrictive voting and immigration laws.

Updates | The Week of September 25, 2017

10/1/17  //  Daily Update

A study suggests that confusion over Wisconsin voter ID laws kept thousands of voters from the polls last November. California moved its presidential primary to Super Tuesday.

Updates | The Week of August 21, 2017

8/24/17  //  Daily Update

An advocacy group filed a lawsuit to make the records of President Trump's Election Integrity Commission public, while commentators continued to criticize the commission.

Updates | The Week of April 3, 2017

4/9/17  //  Daily Update

This week, Daniel Tokaji argued for an active "democracy agenda" on Take Care while a movement for voter ID laws grows in the states, despite no evidence of a large voter conspiracy.

Updates | The Week of April 17, 2017

4/23/17  //  Daily Update

A close special election in Georgia may portend electoral problems for the Republicans. During the 2016 election, the Russian government sought to peddle the myth of voter fraud when it appeared President Trump may lose.

Updates | The Week of October 2, 2017

10/8/17  //  Daily Update

The Supreme Court held oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a major partisan gerrymandering case. Concerns persisted over the impartiality of the Pence-Kobach Voter Commission.

Updates | The Week of October 16

10/21/17  //  Daily Update

Former Attorney General Eric Holder argues the fight for voting rights is the struggle of our generation. Democratic senators requested the Government Accountability Organization investigate President Trump's voting fraud commission.

Updates | The Week of July 3, 2017

7/9/17  //  Daily Update

More than 40 states have fully or partially refused to comply with the Pence-Kobach Commission’s request for state voter data.

Updates | The Week of September 18, 2017

9/24/17  //  Daily Update

Questions about illegal voting and discussions of how to improve election integrity continue to plague the Trump administration. Professor Larry Lessig has a new proposal for election reform.

The Story Thus Far: Voting Rights

3/16/17  //  Daily Update

Since taking office, President Trump has cast doubt on the American electoral process--even as DOJ has stepped away from challenges to restrictive voter identification laws. Here are some useful analyses of the story thus far.

Helen Klein Murillo

Harvard Law School '17

Updates | Week of March 20, 2017

3/21/17  //  Daily Update

Developments in voting and elections for the week of March 20, 2017.

Updates | The Week of August 14, 2017

8/20/17  //  Daily Update

Despite studies showing that voter fraud is practically nonexistent, aides connected to the Trump Administration have created an organization to increase voter turnout in areas where the President has high support and discourage “fraudulent” democratic voting.

Updates | The Week of May 29, 2017

6/4/17  //  Daily Update

Commentators argued that President Trump’s sham Commission on Election Integrity is a threat to democracy, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case that could have wide-ranging impact on voting rights, and a new Democratic super PAC is fighting back on partisan gerrymandering.

Helen Klein Murillo

Harvard Law School '17

Updates | The Week of April 24, 2017

4/30/17  //  Daily Update

Leah Litman analyzes a conservative activists' letter to Attorney General Sessions in light of the illegal Texas redistricting plan.

Updates | The Week of May 8, 2017

5/14/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump signed an executive order creating a presidential commission on “election integrity” based on his false claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election.

Updates | The Week of July 31, 2017

8/6/17  //  Daily Update

States continue to resist the voter fraud commission's attempts to collect voting records. Commission vice-chair Kris Kobach is fighting the ACLU's document requests.

Updates | The Week of March 27, 2017

4/2/17  //  Daily Update

Calls for a "special election" pose major constitutional, political, and policy questions, as Ian Samuel explains for Take Care. Instead, the best way to avoid foreign interference may be to update voting technology.

Updates | The Week of June 5, 2017

6/11/17  //  Daily Update

Efforts to expand automatic voter registration are picking up steam nationally, and the Supreme Court will hear a significant Ohio voting rights case.

Updates | The Week of June 19, 2017

6/25/17  //  Daily Update

Congress and the FEC are considering legislation and rules changes to combat foreign interference in elections.

Updates | The Week of July 17, 2017

6/23/17  //  Daily Update

The President's embattled Commission on Election Integrity, which has been sued by numerous voting rights groups, held its first public meeting this week. DOJ has changed tactics in its Texas voter ID case.

Updates | The Week of August 7, 2017

8/13/17  //  Daily Update

The President's voter fraud commission risks voter purges and may become a target for hackers. The Department of Justice reversed its historical position on the Ohio voter roll purge statute.