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Election Law and Policy

Ray Martinez

The study of the electoral process and judicial regulation of campaigns usually focuses on theoretical discussions involving constitutional questions of free speech and/or equal protection. Traditional election law courses have been grounded primarily in the study of redistricting and campaign finance (focusing upon relevant constitutional principles such as "one person one vote") as well as federal statutory laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. However, with the passage of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and more recently, the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the law of election administration has been firmly established as yet another essential component of any well-rounded study of election law.

My goal with this course is to provide: (1) a concise, yet thorough introduction to traditional election law -- the constitutional, legal and policy considerations which govern redistricting and campaign finance; (2) significant coverage of the laws and policies which govern the administration of elections (in other words, focusing on the "mechanics of our democracy," such as voting system certification and voter registration procedures); (3) a greater awareness and understanding of several "hot button" issues currently confronting the field of election law and administration, such as photo identification requirements for voters casting ballots, citizenship verification requirements for individuals registering to vote, and voter verifiable paper audit trails for electronic voting systems; and (4) interaction with several guest lecturers during the semester who come from the ranks of government, foundations and/or advocacy organizations and who are stakeholders in the field of election law and election administration.

Grades will be based on the following: class participation and presentations (10%); two short writing assignments (20%); and a written final examination (70%).

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