The Science of Voting Rights + An Interview with Matt Dunlap

February 22, 2018 | 10:00 am
Denise Cross Photography/Flickr
Michael Latner
Senior Voting Rights Fellow

My first podcast with UCS has been posted this week, where we talk about the science of representation and the role that science plays in election law and voting rights. This was recorded before the new Pennsylvania Congressional map was released, so we don’t get into those details, but we do discuss gerrymandering, scientific standards for measuring it, and how science informs us about the consequences of choosing electoral institutions.  You can listen to the podcast here:

When Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap agreed to serve on President Trump’s “Election Integrity” commission, election scholars, myself included, roundly criticized him for legitimizing a nakedly partisan attempt to indulge the President’s fantasies about why he failed to win the popular vote. It was clear from President Trump’s campaign trail rhetoric, and its partisan membership, that the Commission would be used as a vehicle to nullify the National Voter Registration Act and restrict voting access across the country.

But on December 22nd, 2017, when a federal judge ordered Commission Chair Kris Kobach to hand over records about correspondence that was concealed from Mr. Dunlap as a member, it was the beginning of the end.  By early January, the White House acknowledged defeat: “Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action.”

Mr. Dunlap’s pursuit of transparency is a crucial example of how a commitment to science-based policy and integrity can protect citizens from government agencies betraying the public interest. In early February, I sat down with Dunlap for an extended interview. We discussed his decision to serve, his experience as a member of the Commission, and the events that led to his lawsuit against the Commission. Below is part of our interview.



In the future, we will also share our conversation with Dunlap about his role as top election official in the first U.S. state to adopt Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which will make its debut in the Maine June primary.