Election Protection in the Time of COVID (807V)

The administrative challenges local officials are confronting in the 2020 election are unprecedented in U.S. history. As the primary elections reveal, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens our democracy as much as it threatens public health. Jurisdictions around the country are scrambling to deal with massive shifts to mail balloting, polling place closures, and loss of poll workers.

Students in this policy lab will investigate the measures state and local officials are taking to protect their elections from the effect of the pandemic.  Students will research, write and/or update policy memos on election preparedness in battleground states, work with our partners to recruit poll workers to reduce the risk of polling place closures due to poll worker shortages, prepare materials for voter outreach and education, and help ensure polling place safety. After the election, students will assess the success of various aspects of the administration of the election, and, in the winter term, produce a detailed post-mortem group report. All students will produce team-based policy memos and internal presentations to be integrated into the final report.

This policy lab will continue over two quarters with a small subset of students from the fall term selected to join the winter research team. The winter quarter will focus on finalizing the research and work product initiated in the fall term.

Students from all disciplines are welcome to apply (including undergraduates). However, preference will be given to current team members of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project and those with experience in election law and policy. We especially welcome applications from students in the law, public policy, political science, and design disciplines, and from those with strong writing and editing skills.

The Fall term class meets remotely each week on Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m. Winter term TBD.

Course Catalog


Nathaniel Persily 1

Nathaniel Persily

  • James B. McClatchy Professor of Law
  • Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Co-Director, Cyber Policy Center
  • Professor, by courtesy, Political Science
  • Professor, by courtesy, Communications

Clients & Deliverables

Client: Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

Deliverables: Policy memos, policy report; website

How to Apply

Student applications are by consent of the instructor. Please apply at https://registrar.law.stanford.edu/.