Event box

Challenges and Opportunities of Voting in 2020: Constitution Day Panel In-Person

Constitution Day Panel Discussion: Challenges and Opportunities of Voting in 2020

Join us for a live, online discussion on constitutional guarantees to enfranchisement and what that means in 2020.

Panelists include:

Nicole Porter, Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project

Nicole D. Porter manages The Sentencing Project's state and local advocacy efforts on sentencing reform, voting rights, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Her advocacy has supported criminal justice reforms in several states, including Kentucky, Missouri, and California. Porter was named a "New Civil Rights Leader" by Essence Magazine for her work to eliminate mass incarceration. Since joining The Sentencing Project in 2009, Porter's work has been cited in several major media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio. She has given several talks on state sentencing policy, collateral consequences, and racial disparity to various audiences, including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and the United Methodist Women's Assembly. Porter is the former director of the Texas ACLU's Prison & Jail Accountability Project (PJAP). PJAP's mission was to monitor the conditions of confinement in state jails and prisons. Porter advocated in the Texas legislature to promote felony enfranchisement reforms, to eliminate prison rape, and improve prison medical care. Porter received her undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin. Her master's thesis addressed exploring self-employment among formerly incarcerated African Americans. She also studied African Politics at the University of Ghana, West Africa.


Nancy Abudu, Deputy Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Voting Rights Practice Group

Nancy G. Abudu is the Deputy Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Voting Rights Practice Group. In that role, she leads a team of lawyers, community organizers, and technical experts in protecting and strengthening the voting rights of minority communities and other politically vulnerable populations. Before joining SPLC, Nancy was the Legal Director for the ACLU of Florida and a senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. She has litigated a variety of civil rights and civil liberties issues in federal and state courts, including legal challenges to state felon disfranchisement, proof of citizenship, and voter photo ID laws. She has pushed for greater enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and other federal laws. Her practice areas also have included prison conditions, free speech, reproductive rights, immigrants' rights, LGBT rights, privacy and government surveillance, and education issues. In addition, Nancy has worked as a staff attorney with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and an associate with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York. She served as an international election observer in Albania, is a member of the ABA's Standing Committee on Election Law, and is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program based in Washington, D.C. She also has published numerous articles and two book chapters, including in the most recent fourth edition of the ABA's America Votes. She received her B.A. from Columbia University, her J.D. from Tulane Law School, and has won several awards and honors of recognition for her civil rights work. She is admitted to practice in Florida, Georgia, New York, the U.S. Supreme Court, and several other federal and state courts.


Katherine Elena, Senior Global Legal Advisor for the International Foundation on Election Systems

As the International Foundation for Electoral Systems' (IFES) senior global legal advisor, Katherine Ellena is responsible for providing strategic leadership and technical assistance to IFES's work on legal and regulatory frameworks for elections, electoral dispute resolution, and electoral integrity. Ellena also manages IFES's expanding anti-corruption portfolio, which covers issues such as political financing, abuse of state resources, and judicial integrity. Ellena provides direct technical legal assistance to IFES' field programs globally and has worked with election commissions, tribunals, courts, government interlocutors, and civil society in over 20 countries over the past 15 years. This has included direct assistance to legislative and regulatory drafting – including a suite of new election laws in Nepal following the passage of the 2015 Constitution – as well as training of lawyers, commissioners, and civil society stakeholders. Ellena contributes to the development of applied research, tools, and resources for IFES' legal service line, as well as applied research initiatives in areas such as electoral leadership and cybersecurity in elections. She has published various opinion pieces, blogs, and academic papers, along with a paper on electoral integrity and election audits, a chapter on measuring effective remedies for fraud and administrative malpractice in the American Bar Association book, International Election Remedies, a guide on the hierarchy of laws for election practitioners implementing legal frameworks for elections, and papers on effective management of elections disputes and violations, cybersecurity in elections, and election annulments. Before joining IFES, Ellena was the acting vice president of the United States New Zealand Council. She was also a research associate with the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School's Department of Defense Analysis. Before this, she was a diplomat with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which included two years with the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ellena holds a master's degree in law with honors from the University of Canterbury, bachelor's degrees in law and philosophy from the University of Canterbury, and a diploma for graduates in international development from the University of London. She was admitted to practice in the High Court of New Zealand in 2004. 


The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Daniel HoSang, Associate Professor of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and American Studies.

The 2020 Constitution Day panel is sponsored by the Center for Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, the Institution for Social and Political Studies, Yale University Library, and Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Recommended reading is available on the research guide below.

Related LibGuide: Constitution Day by Gwyneth Crowley

Thursday, September 17, 2020
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Time Zone:
Eastern Time - US & Canada (change)
Zoom (Online Only)
Registration has closed.

Event Organizer

Profile photo of Kenya Flash
Kenya Flash