Federalization of Elections

Election Law Teleforum Series

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The United States, a constitutional republic, employs a decentralized election regulation system with decision making authority over policies and procedures spread among local, state and federal authorities.  The Constitution provides some authority to Congress over elections but state and local authorities oversee the conduct and details of elections.  For example, the U.S. Constitution sets out an “election day”: the first Tuesday after November 1.  Because the Constitution proscribes terms for federal offices, i.e. four years for the President, six years for Senators and two years for Representatives, federal elections are required at least every two years.  

Our system leaves the details of the election administration to the individual states.  Those details include the specifics of election day rules such as the time for opening and closing polling places, absentee ballot procedures (including emergency absentee balloting), early voting, registering to vote, and the regulation and prosecution of election irregularities and election crimes.  Accordingly, election procedures can vary widely from state to state and even, in some cases, within a state if local jurisdictions develop their own idiosyncratic policies and procedures.  

This panel will discuss the roles played by federal, state and local governments in elections as defined by the U.S. Constitutions, whether and how those roles have evolved in recent decades, and whether and how those roles could change in certain circumstances, including the COVID-19 era. 


Mr. Erik S. Jaffe, Partner, Schaerr | Jaffe LLP

Hon. Matthew S. Petersen, Partner, Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC


This call is open to the public, please dial 888-752-3232 at 12:00 noon ET to access the call.