Healthy and General

UCLA Law Launches Safeguarding Democracy Project Led by

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Distinguished election law scholar will spearhead cross-partisan, multidisciplinary project aimed at protecting America’s free and fair elections 

LOS ANGELES, July 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — UCLA School of Law today proudly announces the launch of the Safeguarding Democracy Project to be directed by Prof. Richard L. Hasen, an internationally recognized election law expert and frequent commentator on American democracy and the courts.

As concerns about the undermining of our electoral system mount, and as the nation heads towards the midterm elections in November, the Safeguarding Democracy Project will promote research, collaboration and advocacy aimed at ensuring free and fair elections in the U.S. conducted in accordance with democratic norms and the rule of law. The project brings together a diverse consortium of scholars, election administrators, legislators, lawyers, voting rights advocates, and concerned citizens to develop practical solutions to ensuring the integrity of our elections.

“The insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, brought on by false claims about the 2020 presidential election, was the opening salvo of a concerted effort to subvert our electoral system,” Hasen says. “Since then, there have been numerous, alarming attempts to undermine our free and fair elections, including sham audits and calls for ‘decertification’ of election results. The Safeguarding Democracy Project will use an all-hands-on-deck approach to address and challenge these threats to our democracy, working to ensure that all eligible voters can freely cast their vote, that those votes will be fairly and accurately counted, and that the election winners will undergo a peaceful transfer of power.”

Under Hasen’s leadership, the Safeguarding Democracy Project will work across ideologies and scholarly disciplines to build a bridge between theory and practice – producing cutting-edged scholarship, issuing recommendations, engaging in advocacy, and holding events to educate the public on the risks to American democracy. The project’s diverse advisory board includes J. Michael Luttig, former judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (appointed by George H.W. Bush); Janai S. Nelson, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF); Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former Chief Security Officer of Facebook; prominent election lawyers Bob Bauer, who headed Barack Obama’s campaign legal team; Ben Ginsberg, who headed Mitt Romney’s campaign legal team; leading election law scholars, political scientists, and other scholars; and current and former state and local election officials. The full advisory board list is below.

Among the first events of the project will be a Sept. 20 discussion with Supreme Court journalists Joan Biskupic (CNN), Adam Liptak (New York Times), and Dahlia Lithwick (Slate), moderated by Hasen, on the Supreme Court’s role in preserving American democracy, and a scholarly roundtable on the independent state legislature doctrine. In early 2023, the Project will convene a public symposium, “Can American Democracy Survive the 2024 Elections?”

One of the most prominent voices on election law today, Rick Hasen is co-author of leading casebooks in election law and remedies and is the author of over 100 articles on election law issues published in numerous journals including the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Supreme Court Review. In 2020, he served as a CNN Election Law Analyst. Before his appointment to UCLA Law on July 1, he was Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine and Co-Director of the Fair Elections and Free Speech Center.

Rick Hasen is the nation’s foremost election law expert,” says Russell Korobkin, interim dean of UCLA Law.  “I am thrilled that we were able to convince him to join our faculty and to spearhead this important initiative. America’s democratic system is literally as well as figuratively under assault, making the work of the Safeguarding Democracy Project critical to our nation’s future. I have no doubt that through Rick’s leadership, and the excellent advisory board, the project will provide real solutions to a set of urgent problems.”

Members of the Safeguarding Democracy Project Advisory Board (institutional affiliations for identification purposes only)

  • Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
  • Adam Ambrogi, Senior Director for Voting and Elections, National League of Women Voters
  • Bob Bauer, Former White House Counsel and General Counsel to Obama for America (2008 and 2012) Presidential Campaigns; Co-Chair, Presidential Commission on Election Administration (2013-2014); Co-Chair, Election Official Legal Defense Network (2021-present); Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, NYU Law School
  • Guy-Uriel Charles, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Professor Law, Harvard University
  • Erwin Cherminsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Berkeley
  • Judd Choate, State Election Director, Colorado Department of State
  • Danielle K. Citron, Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor in Law, University of Virginia
  • Louis DeSipio, Professor of Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies, UC Irvine
  • Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
  • Renee DiResta, Technical Research Manager, Stanford Internet Observatory, Stanford University
  • Joan Donovan, Research Director, The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School, Harvard University
  • Pam Fessler, Former NPR Voting Rights Correspondent
  • Joseph Fishkin, Professor of Law, UCLA
  • Edward B. Foley, Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold Chair in Constitutional Law, Ohio State University
  • Benjamin Ginsberg, Former Counsel to Bush-Cheney (2000 and 2004) and Romney (2008 and 2012) Presidential Campaigns; Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Co-Chair, Election Officials Legal Defense Network
  • Sara Wallace Goodman, Professor of Political Science, UC Irvine
  • Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, UC Irvine
  • Trey Grayson, Former Secretary of State, Commonwealth of Kentucky (2004-11); Member, Frost Brown Todd
  • Gretchen Helmke, Thomas H. Jackson Distinguished University Professor, University of Rochester
  • Elizabeth Howard, Senior Counsel, Democracy, Brennan Center for Justice
  • Samuel Isaacharoff, Bonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU Law
  • David Kaye, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, International Justice Clinic, UC Irvine
  • Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, Orange County, Calif. (Ret.)
  • Claire Jean Kim, Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies, UC Irvine
  • Kate Klonick, Assistant Professor Law, St. John’s University
  • Jack I. Lerner, Clinical Professor of Law, UC Irvine
  • Steven Levitsky, David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, Harvard University
  • Leah Litman, Professor of Law, University of Michigan
  • Sarah Longwell, CEO, Longwell Partners; Publisher, The Bulwark
  • J. Michael Luttig, Former Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth District
  • Matthew Masterson, Former Commissioner, U.S. Election Assistance Commission and Senior Cybersecurity Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security; Director of Information Integrity, Microsoft Democracy Forward
  • Jon D. Michaels, Professor of Law, UCLA
  • Michael T. Morley, Associate Professor of Law, Florida State University
  • Derek T. Muller, Professor of Law, University of Iowa
  • Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
  • Brendan Nyhan, James O. Freedman Presidential Professor, Professor of Government, Dartmouth College
  • Norman J. Ornstein, Emeritus Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford University
  • Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU
  • Betrall Ross, Professor of Law, University of Virginia
  • Alex Stamos, Director, Stanford Internet Observatory
  • Charles Stewart III, Kenin Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Michael Tesler, Professor of Political Science, UC Irvine
  • Franita Tolson, George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Chair in Law, University of Southern California
  • Lynn Vavreck, Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy, UCLA Political Science
  • Amy Wilentz, Author and Professor of English (Literary Journalism), UC Irvine; Contributing Editor, The Nation
  • Adam Winkler, Connell Professor of Law, UCLA

SOURCE UCLA School of Law