William and Mary Law School

Election Law Program

A Joint Project of the College of William & Mary and the National Center for State Courts

ELS 14 Poster

The functioning of the U.S. electoral process increasingly comes down to resolving election law disputes in court. These election law cases are extraordinarily important to the democratic process, often concerning fundamental issues such as ballot access, accurate vote counts, and voter challenges.

Created in 2005 as a joint venture of the National Center for State Courts and the College of William & Mary, the Election Law Program seeks to provide practical assistance to state court judges called upon to resolve difficult election law disputes. In 2008, the Program published a Manual for judges that discusses and analyzes election law issues and the judicial relief available for election law violations. The Program also produces a  series of web-based lectures (see here) designed to educate judges and journalists about the fundamentals of election law. The Program regularly adds to its collection, which includes, for example, a video featuring Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie called "Managing a Recount: What Every Judge Needs to Know" based on his experience running two state-wide recounts in Minnesota in 2008 and 2010, available here. More recently in Spring 2014, partner and head of Skadden's political law group Kenneth Gross provides thoughts on the impact of McCutcheon v. FEC on the states, available here

ELS 2014 Panel  Els Panel Potter  Voting Rights Panel Smith

Each year, the Program hosts a symposium on a topic addressesing a timely election law topic. Past symposia have featured an array of distinguished panelists discussing topics such as campaign fianance, redistricting, the role of secretaries of state in managing elections, and  "campaigning in the courts" (a panel designed to examine the rising tide of election ligitation and campaign strategy). For information about the annual symposium seriess, see the ELP News & Activities page.

The Election Law Program also works closely with its student arm, the William & Mary Election Law Society to run an Election Law Speaker series to bring prominent election lawyers and scholars to campus and plan other events throughout the academic year.

SCP 14 Voting Rights  ELS Symposium Trevor Potter   Intro to ELS Symposium