Centers Of Excellence

Safeguarding Democracy Project

Safeguarding Democracy Project promotes research, collaboration, and advocacy aimed at ensuring free and fair elections in the U.S. conducted in accordance with democratic norms and the rule of law.

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Professor Hasen Speaks About “Safeguarding Democracy Project”

Professor Hasen Speaks to CNN about January 6, the risks of election subversion in 2024, and the new “Safeguarding Democracy Project” at UCLA Law.

The Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA Law promotes research, collaboration, and advocacy aimed at ensuring continued free and fair elections in the United States, conducted in accordance with democratic norms and the rule of law. The events following the 2020 presidential elections, which led to the dangerous January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol, demonstrated that the American electoral system depends as much, if not more, on people acting in good faith as upon mere legal constraints. Since those events, this risk of election subversion has been coupled with new efforts to make it harder for some eligible voters to register and to vote. These changes threaten the cornerstone of American democracy: that all eligible voters, and only eligible voters, will be able to freely cast a vote that will be fairly and accurately counted, with the winner of the election peacefully taking office and accepted as legitimate.

Under the leadership of UCLA Law Professor Richard L. Hasen, one of the nation’s leading election law scholars, the Safeguarding Democracy Project is built upon the premise that tackling issues of U.S. election integrity must be collaborative: across ideologies, across scholarly disciplines, and as a bridge between theory and practice.

The Safeguarding Democracy Project brings together in dialogue scholars, election administrators, legislators, lawyers, voting rights advocates, and concerned citizens to develop practical solutions to urgent problems. It holds conferences, produces reports, and files legal briefs to educate and serve the public good.


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Upcoming SDP Events

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Past Events

 

  • 2023-24

    July 10 - The Hammer Museum - Under the Gavel: The U.S. Supreme Court's Most Recent Term in Review

     

    Co-presented with the Safeguarding Democracy Project

    With rulings on major issues expected by the start of summer 2024, the United States Supreme Court is once again at the center of key legal and policy debates. An all-star panel of legal scholars analyzes the meaning and implications of the latest Supreme Court cases, including United States v. Rahimi on gun rights, FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and Moyle v. United States on reproductive rights, the Netchoice cases on regulating social media companies under the First Amendment, Trump v. United States on presidential immunity for criminal acts, and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo on the power of the administrative state. The panelists will also consider the implications of these rulings for the presidential election season.

    Panelists include: Cary Franklin, the McDonald/Wright Chair of Law Faculty Director of the Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy and Faculty Director of the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles; Justin Levitt, the White House's first Senior Policy Advisor for Democracy and Voting Rights (2021-22) and Professor of Law at Loyola Marymount University; Eugene Volokh, the Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles and Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; and Kimberly West-Faulcon, the James P. Bradley Chair in Constitutional Law at Loyola Marymount University. Moderated by Rick Hasen, Professor of Law and Political Science and Director, Safeguarding Democracy Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.

     

     

    May 9 - War Game at the Hammer Museum

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Hammer Museum, co-presented by the UCLA Law Safeguarding Democracy Project, invites you to a pre-release screening of 2024 Sundance Official Selection Documentary WAR GAME, followed by a conversation moderated by UCLA professor and legal scholar Rick Hasen with directors Jesse Moss and Tony Gerber, and film participants former Governor of Montana Steve Bullock, US Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Major General (Ret.) Linda Singh, former Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Homeland Security Elizabeth Neumann, Vet Voice Foundation CEO Janessa Goldbeck, and Fascination Lab Co-Founder Ben Radd.

    Ticketing: Admission is free. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. Box office opens one hour before the event.

    Watch the Q&A with the filmmakers and Rick Hasen here.


     


    April 16 - Fireside Chat with California Attorney General Rob Bonta

    and Safeguarding Democracy Project Director, Rick Hasen

    Webinar recording

    Co-Sponsored by the American Bar Association's Defending Democracy Initiative

    Moderated by Stephen Cobb (ABA Democracy Fellow & Cozen O'Connor Member)

     

    April 9 - Race and the Risk of Election Subversion

    Webinar recording


    Sophia Lin Lakin (ACLU), Spencer Overton (George Washington University Law School), Sonni Waknin (UCLA Voting Rights Project)

     


    March 14 - Business's Role in Preventing Democratic Backsliding Webinar 

    Webinar recording

    Daniella Ballou-Aares (Leadership Now Project), Richard Eidlin (Business for America), Ben Ginsberg (Hoover Institution, Stanford), moderated by Richard H. Pildes (NYU School of Law)


     

    February 20 - Lessons and Warning Signs: A Conversation with a January 6th Investigator

    Organized by the Promise Institute for Human Rights co-sponsored by the Safeguarding Democracy Project

    With introductions by Director of the International & Comparative Law Program, Jess Peake, the conversation will feature Sandeep Prasanna, a UCLA Law alumnus and former January 6th investigative counsel, in discussion with Rick Hasen, Director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project.


    February 15 - A Real Right to Vote with Richard L. Hasen & Erwin Chemerinsky

    In-person at the Hammer Museum

    More Information

    Logo for the program "A Real Right to Vote"


    February 6 - 1pm What Can We Do to Have a Fair and Safe Election in 2024?

    Webinar Recording

    Renee DiResta (Stanford Internet Observatory), Kate Klonick (St John’s University Law School), Charles Stewart III (MIT), and Kim Wyman (Bipartisan Policy Center)

    Moderated by Richard L. Hasen, Director, Safeguarding Democracy Project


     

    January 23 - The Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System

    Ryan J. Reilly (NBC News) in conversation with Richard L. Hasen, Director, Safeguarding Democracy Project

    Webinar Recording

     


    Clockwise from top left: Jonathan Lai, Carrie Levine, Patrick Marley, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, and Pamela Fessler

    November 16 - Covering the Risks to Elections on the State and Local Level: Views from the Beat Reporters

    Webinar Recording

     

     

     

     


    October 20 - The Law and Politics of Potentially Disqualifying Donald Trump from Running for President

    Online Conference

    Webinar Recordings

    Conference: The Law and Politics of Potentially Disqualifying Donald Trump from Running for President

    UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project

    Conference Agenda

    Introduction

    • Richard L. Hasen

    Deciding on Presidential Disqualification: Who, How, When, and Where?

    • Edward B. Foley
    • Derek Muller
    • Lisa Manheim
    • Moderator: Rebecca Green

    The Politics of Candidate Disqualification: Here and Abroad

    • Gretchen Helmke
    • Sam Issacharoff
    • Daniel Ziblatt
    • Moderator: Julia Azari

    Does Section 3 of the 14th Amendment Bar Trump from Holding Office?

    • Mark Graber
    • Sherrilyn Ifill
    • Kurt Lash
    • Moderator: Guy Charles

    Conclusion: Roundtable Discussion and Q & A with All the Participants

    Moderator: Richard L. Hasen


    From left: Genevieve Lakier, Eugene Volokh

    October 17 - The Trump Prosecutions, the First Amendment, and Election Interference

    Webinar Recording


    Joan Biskupic

     

    October 12 - The Roberts Court and American Democracy

    Webinar

    Webinar Recording

     



    September, 26 - How Should Platforms Handle Election Speech and Disinformation in 2024?

    Webinar

    • Katie Harbath (Anchor Change)
    • Josh Lawson (Advisor to the Aspen Institute on A.I. and democracy-related risk, formerly of Meta)
    • Yoel Roth (formerly of Twitter)
    • Brandon Tucker (Color of Change)
    • Moderated by Richard L. Hasen

    Webinar recording


     

    September 5 - The Trump Indictments, the 2024 Elections, and Public Peace

    From left: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Benjamin Ginsberg, and Rachel Kleinfeld


    Webinar

    Webinar recording

  • 2022-23

    U.S. Democracy and the Independent State Legislature Theory after the Supreme Court’s Moore v. Harper Decision

    From left: •	Derek T. Muller, Richard H. Pildes, Bertrall Ross, and Carolyn Shapiro


    UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project hosted a flash webinar, on June 28, 2023 featuring leading election law scholars:   

    On June 27, the Supreme Court on a 6-3 vote in Moore v. Harper rejected the most extreme version of the “independent state legislature theory” that could have upended U.S. elections. But the Court preserved a role for itself in reviewing state court decisions applying state election laws in presidential and congressional elections. What does this opinion mean for the future of American democracy? How likely is it that it will lead to more federal court intervention into U.S. elections? Why did the Court decide the case when it appeared to some to be moot? 

    Webinar recording


     

    Clockwise from top left: Liz Howard, Judd Chaote, and Richard HasenApril 4 - Confronting the Insider Threat on Election Security and Protecting Election Officials

    Webinar recording

    Presentation slides


     

    March 17, 2023 - Can American Democracy Survive the 2024 Elections?

    The Safeguarding Democracy Project at UCLA School of Law convened leading election officials, election administrators, scholars, lawyers, and community leaders in a cross-ideological, interdisciplinary conversation to consider ongoing threats to free and fair elections in the United States, and what may be done for a safe and successful 2024 U.S. presidential election. 

    More information | Conference schedule


     

    From left: Joan Donovan and Richard HasenMarch 2, 2023 - Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America

    Co-Sponsored with UCLA Law's Institute for Technology, Law & Policy

    Webinar recording


     

    From left: Jake Grumbach and Richard HasenFebruary 16, 2023 - Laboratories Against Democracy

    Webinar recording


     

    Clockwise from top: Rachel Maddow, Russell Korobkin, Richard HasenJanuary 26, 2023 - What “Ultra” Can Teach Us About Threats to American Democracy Today

    Webinar recording


     

    November 22, 2022 - Lessons for Democracy from the 2022 Midterm Elections

    Speakers

    • Rick Hasen - Director, Safeguarding Democracy Project and Professor of Law @UCLA School of Law
    • Chris Tausanovitch - Associate Professor, Political Science @UCLA Political Science
    • Lynn Vavreck - Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy @UCLA Political Science

    Webinar recording


     

    October 27, 2022 - Trump, Trumpism, and the Future of American Democracy

    A conversation with:

    Webinar recording


     

    October 14, 2022 - Conference with Stanford's Program on Democracy and the Internet, "Should Donald Trump be Returned to Social Media?"

    The Program on Democracy and the Internet (PDI) at Stanford University and UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project will host a half-day streamed conference, “Should Donald Trump Be Returned to Social Media?” Leading scholars in the areas of cyber law, election law, constitutional law, and human rights law will discuss whether former President Donald J. Trump should be restored to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube if he declares that he is a candidate for the Presidency. Although at this moment that question is a private matter for the companies, they will be making the decision in the shadow of recent legislation in Florida and Texas (currently subject to First Amendment litigation) that would require certain social media companies to carry politicians’ speech under some circumstances. The conference will use this case study to foster a larger dialogue about the effects of deplatforming and replatforming political figures and discuss the key considerations involved in these decisions implicating free speech and safeguarding democracy.

    You may download papers for the conference at this link.

    Conference speakers:

    Conference recording


     

    September 29, 2022 - Lessons from the January 6 Committee: A conversation with Representative Adam Schiff

    Featuring:

    Webinar recording


     

    September 20, 2022 - Special From the Frontlines: The United States Supreme Court and American Democracy: View of Three Journalists

    Featuring:

    Webinar recording


     

    August 25, 2022 - Moore v. Harper, the Independent State Legislature Theory and Potential Threats to American Democracy

    Featuring:

    Webinar recording


     

    August 24, 2022 - Can Proposed New Congressional Legislation on Counting Electoral College Votes Lessen the Risk of Election Subversion?

    Featuring:

    Webinar recording

Reports and Resources

News
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Jul 10, 2024

Rick Hasen writes in Slate about Democrats' apparent lack of urgency regarding Trump's threat to democracy

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Jul 04, 2024

Rick Hasen is quoted in an LA Times column on whether Biden bows out of the election

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