New York State Bar Association Appoints Task Force To Assist Policymakers and Journalists in the Midst of a Contentious Election

By Susan DeSantis

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The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has appointed veteran election lawyer Jerry H. Goldfeder to chair a task force of legal scholars who will advise fellow attorneys, journalists and members of the public on issues related to the upcoming 2020 presidential race.

The eight-member panel will focus on a variety of subjects, including constitutional and statutory provisions that govern the election process and potential court challenges over the election results, as well as the surge in mail-in ballots as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

The task force will remain in place through the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration, providing nonpartisan interpretation of the laws governing voting, the counting of ballots, the electoral college, and the role of Congress in counting electoral college votes. It will serve as a resource for understanding how any controversies that arise from Nov. 3 through Jan. 20 are resolved.

“The work of this task force is crucial to making sure that the law of the land is the winner on Election Day,” said Scott M. Karson, president of the New York State Bar Association. “We believe that fostering a deep understanding of how our democracy works ensures that the election will be civil and orderly and that we can all agree on the rightful winner who will assume the important task of moving the country forward at this difficult moment in our collective history.”

Goldfeder, special counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP and an adjunct professor of election law at Fordham Law School, said the task force will issue reports to explain often convoluted and complicated legal matters in laymen’s terms, and provide nonpartisan legal analysis for members of the media.

“We believe that an informed public facilitates an orderly election,” Goldfeder said. “I am very pleased that some of New York’s most preeminent election law scholars have agreed to serve on this task force to help the public understand the electoral process, and the media to report it accurately.”

Issues before the task force include how disputes over Electoral College votes are settled, how Congress must count the votes and what procedures must be followed from Election Day through Inauguration Day.

In addition to Goldfeder, the members of the task force are:

  • Ava Ayers, director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, who teaches classes in administrative law, law of government and professional responsibility.
  • Wilfred U. Codrington III is a constitutional law scholar with a focus on constitutional reform, election law and voting rights. He is an assistant professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
  • James A. Gardner, a SUNY distinguished professor, Bridget and Thomas Black professor and a research professor of political science at the University at Buffalo School of Law. His research focuses on election law, federalism and Democratic theory.
  • John “Jack” Hardin Young was on the Democratic National Committee team that handled the Florida recount during the 2000 election and the Bush v. Gore case. Young, of counsel to Sandler Reiff, is the chair of the American Bar Association’s Senior Lawyer Division.
  • Deborah Pearlstein, professor of law and co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy at Cardozo Law, specializes in constitutional law, international law, national security and terrorism, and U.S. foreign relations law.
  • Richard H. Pildes, one of the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional law and a specialist in issues facing democracy. He is the Sudler Family professor of constitutional law at NYU School of Law.
  • Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, is the author of a book that traces the rise of judicial elections, judicial review, and the influence of money and parties in American courts.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]
518-487-5780

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