Keeping Elections and Voters Safe

Part of our webcast series, "SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19"

Webcast recording

The pandemic crisis seems to be pitting election security—that is, our ability to hold free, fair, and credible elections—against voter safety, when standing in line at a polling place could literally risk people’s lives. Solutions like vote-by-mail are promising, but even if opposing political parties could come to terms, the practicalities of standing up a comprehensive system might be prohibitive for some districtsAs part of our “SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19,” join us for a discussion about election security in the age of COVID-19how crises have historically led to voter disenfranchisement, and the importance of holding elections while also protecting public health.  


  • Patrick J. “P.J.” Hogan is a former state senator and a principal with Cornerstone Government Affairs. Prior to joining Cornerstone, Hogan served as the vice chancellor of the University System of Maryland for eight years. From 1994 to 2007, he served in the Maryland State Senate, representing the 39th Legislative District, located in Northern Montgomery County. From 1990 to 1994, Hogan served as legislative assistant to former U.S. Congresswoman Connie Morella. 
  • Franita Tolson is vice dean for faculty and academic affairs and professor of law at University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Her work focuses on election law, constitutional law, legal historyand employment discrimination. She has written on a wide range of topics including partisan gerrymandering, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Her forthcoming book, Reviving the Lost Clauses: The Evolution of Federal Voting Rights Enforcement from the Founding to the Dawn of the Progressive Era, will be published in 2021.  
  • Martha S. Jones, moderator, is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy. She is author ofBirthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018) andAll Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900(2007). Her new book, Vanguard: A History of African American Women’s Politics, will be published this fall. 


About SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19

As coronavirus spreads across the country and around the globe, we are facing a crisis not just in healthcare, but also in how we live, work, learn, engage, and come together to govern ourselves as citizens and in communities.

How do the politics of the pandemic shape the way individual, communities, and institutions respond? Likewise, how does institutional and governmental response to the pandemic shape people’s political views and behaviors? Do people trust what their governments are telling them? Why are some countries controlling the spread of the virus better than others? In the U.S., how will this affect the 2020 elections? And how do we practice social distancing and also protect and promote civic engagement and inclusive discourse?

SNF Agora Institute will host a series of webcast conversations, with experts from Johns Hopkins University and beyond, that will explore the political and policy implications of COVID-19.