Preserving our American democracy is dependent on free and fair elections. Political corruption and election fraud have been documented back to the mid-19th century. With the advent of new technologies in the face of a national pandemic many more states are looking beyond physical polling places to collect citizens’ votes. Is it safe?
Part one of this two-part interactive national discussion will give attendees an overview of the elections process, where it is currently, and where it’s going. Immediately following our panel of experts, community leadership program alumni and staff will participate in small virtual breakout rooms to discuss what they, as leaders, can do in their own communities to ensure fair and safe elections now and into the future.
Kathleen Hale (AL), PhD, a graduate of Leadership Stark County in 1992, Kathleen is a professor of Political Science at Auburn University where she directs its Election Administration Initiative and Graduate Program in Election Administration. She teaches courses in election administration, qualitative methods, and intergovernmental relations, and her research examines how to improve capacity of government and nonprofit organizations to address public problems. Dr. Hale also directs Auburn’s partnership with the Election Center (National Association of Election Officials) to professionalize the public administration of elections through its national certification program.
John Marion (RI), a graduate of Leadership Rhode Island in 2011, has been executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island since 2008. In that role he serves as the organization’s lead advocate and spokesperson. During his tenure John has led successful legislative campaigns to reform the state’s campaign finance disclosure system, restore the full jurisdiction of the state Ethics Commission over members of the General Assembly, and create a system of risk-limiting post-election audits
Amber McReynolds (CO), a graduate of Leadership Denver in 2017, Amber is one of the country’s leading experts on election administration and policy. She is the CEO for the National Vote At Home Institute and Coalition and the former Director of Elections for Denver, Colorado. Amber serves on the National Election Task Force on Election Crises, as an advisory board member for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Election and Data Science Lab, a board member for Lift Colorado, a board member for Represent Women, and serves on various advisory boards for other national organizations focused on improving election administration. She was named by Governing Magazine as a 2018 Top Public Official of the Year for her work.
Jason O’Toole (GA) has over twenty-five years’ experience in criminal and civil investigation. As a former criminal investigator for the Georgia Secretary of State, Jason was the lead investigator on several cases involving major elections fraud or inaccuracy. As a supervisor for a contractor for the US Office of Personnel Management, Jason had a behind-the-scenes role in building organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security and transition for The White House. He trained and led teams of background investigators and managers, screening applicants for critical positions.