Casting Votes, Counting Votes for Election 2016: Democracy and Law in Action

April 1-2, 2016


As the 2016 election season gets underway, this is an opportune time to reflect on the laws that structure our electoral process.  Recent years have seen significant developments in election-law policy and doctrine.  Many states have enacted laws that affect who can vote and how, and those provisions have given rise to substantial litigation.  States and courts also continue to struggle with the issue of legislative districting, which raises vexing questions about both partisanship and minority rights.  Wisconsin has been ground zero for many of these election-related discussions and controversies.  The participants at this conference will explore these topics and others, offering perspectives on election laws' past, present, and future.


Friday, April 1, 2016
Lubar Commons,  University of Wisconsin Law School

3-4 p.m. Reception

4-5 p.m. Welcome and Introductions

  • Tonya Brito, Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development, University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Margaret Raymond, Fred W. & Via Miller Dean and Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Rob Yablon, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School

Keynote address

"The Hydraulic Election of 2016"
Pamela S. Karlan
Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School; Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice

5-6 p.m. Discussants and Audience Q&A

  • Heinz Klug, University of Wisconsin Law School
  • David Canon, University of Wisconsin Department of Political Science

6:30 p.m.  Dinner for speakers, discussants, moderators and invited guests

Saturday, April 2, 2016
Lubar Commons, University of Wisconsin Law School

8:30-9 a.m. Welcome and Refreshments

9-10:30 a.m. Panel #1: "Aggregation Aggravation: Dilemmas in Legislative Districting"

Overview: The legislative districts we draw play a central role in determining the lawmakers we elect.  Partisan actors frequently control the districting process and endeavor to maximize their electoral advantage within a set of complicated constitutional and statutory constraints, which, among other things, dictate how race may and may not be used when drawing lines.  This panel will consider some of the difficult questions of partisanship and race that arise in the districting context.

  • Moderator: Barry Burden, University of Wisconsin Department of Political Science
  • "Redistricting in the Public Interest -- A Hope for 2020" Kareem Crayton, Founder and Managing Partner, CrimCard Consulting Services; Visiting Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
  • "Majoritarian Hegemony: The Future of Racial Minority Voting Rights in America?"
    Linda Greene
    , University of Wisconsin Law School
  • "Race, Place, and Power," Nick Stephanopoulos, University of Chicago Law School

10:30-10:45 a.m. Break

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Panel #2: "Voters and Victors: Dilemmas in Electoral Oversight"

Overview: Legislatures and courts make rules and rulings that determine who may participate in the electoral process and that determine the result when an election produces no clear winner.  In recent years, political and legal disputes have flared up around the country over voter-ID laws and other participation-restricting measures.  This panel will consider the procedures and doctrines that govern election-related controversies.

  • Moderator: Ken Mayer, University of Wisconsin Department of Political Science
  • "Softening Voter ID Laws Through Litigation: Is it Enough?" Richard Hasen, University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • "Judging Congressional Elections," Lisa Manheim, University of Washington School of Law
  • "Voting, Spending, and the Right to Participate" Rob Yablon, University of Wisconsin Law School

12:15-1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-3 p.m. Panel #3: "Wisconsin: Forward, Backward, or Sideways?”

Overview: Few states have seen more significant changes to their election laws in recent years than Wisconsin.  This panel of Wisconsin election law experts will discuss those developments, their possible implications, and what the future may hold.

Panel Information

Panelists on Panel #1 and Panel #2 should plan to speak for 15 minutes each. Panelists on Panel #3 should plan to speak for 10 minutes each. Sticking to these time frames will allow enough time for audience Q&A.

Deadlines and Submission Instructions

Please submit the title of your paper, the abstract of your paper and a short bio by December 11, 2015
Your draft papers are due by March 11, 2016
Submit all materials via email to Michelle Preston ( on or before the deadline

Access to Papers

We have posted the papers here (password protected)


University of Wisconsin Law School, Institute for Legal Studies, Elections Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University Lectures Committee

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