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 William & Mary Law School, the Election Law Program seeks to provide practical assistance to state court judges called upon to resolve difficult election law disputes. Resources include 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 designed to educate judges and journalists about the fundamentals of election law. The Program regularly adds to its collection.
In 2011, the Deer Creek Foundation generously awarded the Program a grant to run Election Law "War Games" at three state judicial conferences. The first war game was held on May 16, 2012 in Norfolk, Virginia. The second war game was held in Vail, Colorado on September 11, 2012. The goals of the war games are twofold: to troubleshoot state election statutes and educate judges about the unique nature of election litigation. Video of the Virgina war game oral argument and decision is available here. Video of the Colorado war game will be available soon.
Finally, each year, the Program hosts a symposium addressing a timely election law topic. Past symposia have featured an array of distinguished panelists discussing topics such as judicial campaign finance, 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 Program's News & Activities page.