In this session, we will take a look at the challenges facing our elections, particularly at the structures the country has used for many generations that in an era of hyperpartisanship have become sources of national vulnerability.


Edward B Foley holds the Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law at The Ohio State University, where he also directs its election law program. He is a contributing opinion columnist for the Washington Post, and for the 2020 election season, he served as an NBC News election law analyst.

His most current book, Presidential Elections and Majority Rule (Oxford University Press, 2020), excavates the long-forgotten philosophical premises of how the Electoral College is supposed to work, as revised by the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and then uses this historical analysis to provide a feasible basis for reform of state laws that would enable the Electoral College to operate according to majority-rule objectives it was designed to achieve.

His book Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2016) was named Finalist for the David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History and listed as one of 100 “must-read books about law and social justice”.

As a Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Project on Election Administration, Foley drafted Principles of Law: Non-Precinct Voting and Resolution of Ballot-Counting Disputes, which provides nonpartisan guidance for the resolution of election disputes.  He has co-authored Election Law and Litigation: The Judicial Regulation of Politics (Wolters Kluwer 2014).

Foley clerked for Chief Judge Patricia M. Wald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Harry Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court.  He has also served as State Solicitor in the office of Ohio’s Attorney General, where he was responsible for the state’s appellate and constitutional litigation.

Lawrence R. Jacobs is McKnight Presidential Chair in Public Affairs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey School and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. The Center is a preeminent hub for political and policy analysis in the Midwest.

Jacobs has published 16 books and edited volumes and dozens of articles on elections, legislative and presidential politics, elections and public opinion, and a range of public policies. His most recent books include Fed Power: How Finance Wins (with Desmond King, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016), Health Care Reform and American Politics, 3rd edition (with Theda Skocpol, Oxford University Press, 2015), Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation (with James Druckman, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).

In an April edition of The Hill, Jacobs published an opinion entitled “For More Democracy, We Need Fewer Elections,” and, later the same month, in an opinion in the Washington Post Jacobs described why he believes that “Instead of boosting democracy, primary elections are undermining it.”

Kevin Johnson is co-founder and executive director of Election Reformers Network (ERN). Kevin leads ERN’s research and advocacy programs focused on impartial election administration, independent redistricting, ranked-choice voting, and electoral college reform. Kevin has more than 20 years of experience in election reform, including seven years overseas with the National Democratic Institute and ten years on the Board of Common Cause Massachusetts.

Kevin is also a member of the Election Expert Study Team of The Carter Center, assisting the Center’s U.S. Elections Program. Kevin serves on advisory bodies of American PromiseFairvote, and Rank The Vote.

Kevin co-authored the first comprehensive study of secretary of state conflict of interest and pioneered the top-two proportional approach to electoral college reform and the nominating commission approach to the secretary of state selection. He has published two dozen op-eds on a wide range of reform topics in media outlets including The Washington Post, Governing, Commonwealth Magazine, and The Daily Beast.

At the National Democratic Institute, Mr. Johnson directed election observations in the West Bank and Gaza, Indonesia, and several countries in Africa, and organized advisory consultations for constitution drafters in new democracies, among other programs.

Pam Fessler, the moderator, was an editor and correspondent at NPR News for more than 28 years. As a correspondent on the National Desk, she covered voting issues, poverty, and philanthropy. For much of her time at NPR, Fessler reported on elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She did countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter laws to Russian hacking attempts and the impact of misinformation. Fessler also covered homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, and income inequality. She reported on efforts by non-profit groups, the government, and others to reduce poverty and how those programs worked. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award.