Interning in Election Law

A sample of where our students go to put their legal skills to use.

William & Mary Students pursue externships during the school year and internships over the summer to hone their research and communication skills in environments where election law is practiced. These environments range from law firms, to voting rights organizations, to government agencies, and provide experience to suppliment students' election law course work.

Peter Rechter '16Peter Rechter

Legal Intern, Fair Elections Legal network

I spent the summer of 2014 working as a legal intern with the Fair Elections Legal Network, a group of attorneys dedicated to to removing barriers to voting and improving election administration across the United States. At FELN, I focused on challenges faced by student voters. Specifically, I drafted memos on state implementation of HAVA ID requirements, state proof of citizenship requirements, and the Virginia State Board of Election's implementation of Virginia’s voter ID law. I also had the opportunity to compose persuasive letters to multiple Secretaries of State advocating for the removal of misleading voter information from their publications. Throughout the summer I attended Senate hearings on election administration and new voting technology and sat in on conference calls with our ally organizations.   

Allison Davis '16Allison Davis

Summer Associate, Clark Hill PLC

I spent the summer and fall of 2014 working as a law clerk for the general counsel of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the official campaign committee of the Senate Republicans. As a law clerk, I assisted the general counsel with all matters related to NRSC's target races for the 2014 election cycle. My projects included researching and composing election and recount statute summaries intended for use by campaigns during and after the 2014 general election, drafting memoranda and legal advisories for Members of Congress and their staff, and working in support of the various legal challenges filed by NRSC and its candidates. I had the opportunity to participate in meetings with high-level staff and counsel for NRSC and the other Republican party committees, and I also traveled to battleground states to help with on-the-ground monitoring of field teams during a Senate primary, and of polls during the 2014 general election.

During the summer of 2015, I worked as a summer associate at the Washington, DC office of Clark Hill PLC, a large law firm based in Detroit, MI. I had the opportunity to contribute to a variety of practice groups, but spent the majority of my summer working with the firm's Political Law team. Clark Hill represents a variety of clients in this space, including sitting governors and Members of Congress (both House and Senate), candidates for high-level office at the state and federal levels, and prominent independent expenditure-only groups and 501(c)(4)s. I will be returning to Clark Hill after graduation. Finally, during the fall of 2015, I will be working as a law clerk for Federal Election Commissioner Caroline Hunter.

Jacob Kipp '17

Legal Intern, Virginia Department of ElectionsJacob Kipp

I spent the summer working with the Virginia Department of Elections, the agency tasked with ensuring proper election administration in Virginia. At the Department of Elections, I regularly advised the Department’s policy analysts on matters of Virginia and federal election law. Most prominently, I drafted a memo about removing certain forms' affidavit requirements. The memo analyzed the legality of removing those requirements, and included legislative and regulatory proposals aimed at increasing process efficiency. I also devoted significant time to streamlining the execution of Virginia’s recount standards to provide easy-to-understand guidance for state and local election officials. I had the opportunity to attend State Board of Elections meetings and participate in meetings with the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Elections. 

Laura Wright '17

Legal Intern, Kemitraan, Partnership for Governance Reform and Perludem, Association for Election and DemocracyLaura Wright

I spent the summer of 2015 interning with two Civil Society Organizations in Jakarta, Indonesia. When I arrived in Indonesia, both organizations were wrapping up a joint project to codify the nation's election laws in to one cohesive code. At Perludem, Association for Election and Democracy, I provided research on U.S. Election Law for comparative purposes. I also had the opportunity to attend seminars led by leading election law experts on the codification process, developments in campaign finance, and meet with lead figures from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). At Kemitraan, Partnership for Governance Reform, I assisted the codification team as they finalized reports about the project to send to their donors. I spent the majority of my time at Kemitraan researching for future election projects related to the recent codification, such as the appropriate use of election technology in Indonesia, ways to increase civic participation, and how to make political parties more democratic. I also conducted a mini-comparative study between Indonesia's election law codification process with that of the Philippines. During this time I had the opportunity to meet with Indonesian legal and political science scholars. During the Summer of 2016, I'm in New York City working at the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project.

Ashley Eick '16

Legal Intern, Fair Elections Legal NetworkAshley Eick

I researched state election laws affecting language minorities, looking at both laws on the book and proposed legislation. I also updated voter guides and outreach materials. For most of the summer, I worked on an ongoing case in Tennessee that is challenging the state’s voter ID law, which specifically proscribes the use of public student IDs but allows public faculty IDs issued by the same institution. Finally, I co-authored this piece in the Huffington Post to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. 

Emily Wagman '17

Intern, OneVirginia2021: Virginians for Fair RedistrictingEmily Wagman

I had the opportunity to do substantive legal research on redistricting legislation both in Virginia and other states. This research aided the group’s efforts to analyze Virginia's proposed legislation and help determine the best ways to strengthen it. I also had the opportunity to participate on Steve Heretick’s campaign for the House of Delegates. He is a candidate who supports redistricting reform, and we ultimately were able to help unseat the incumbent in the primary election. 

Other Representative Places ELS Students Have Interned / Externed

The Brennan Center for Justice, New York City (Democracy Department)

Office of Virginia Senator Janet Howell

ACLU Voting Rights Project, Atlanta, Georgia

Virginia State Board of Elections

ACLU of Virginia, Patricia M. Arnold Women's Rights Project, Richmond, Virginia

International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Washington, DC

International Institute for Democracy & Electoral Assistance, Stockholm, Sweden

National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, Virginia

Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, DC

U.S. Senate Office of the Legislative Counsel, Washington, DC

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP, Washington, DC

Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC

Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, DC

Sandler, Reiff, Lamb, Rosenstein, & Birkenstock, P.C., Washington, DC