Information on Featured Speakers

July 11 Celebration of Those Who Protect American Democracy

Information about our Featured Speakers

David Becker

Executive Director & Founder, CEIR

David Becker is the Executive Director and Founder of the nonpartisan, non-profit Center for Election Innovation & Research, working with election officials of both parties, all around the country, to ensure accessible, secure elections for all eligible voters. A key element of David’s work with CEIR is managing the Election Official Legal Defense Network, providing pro bono legal assistance to election officials who are threatened with frivolous criminal prosecution, harassment, or physical violence.

Prior to founding CEIR, David was Director of the elections program at The Pew Charitable Trusts. As the lead for Pew’s analysis and advocacy on elections issues, David spearheaded development of the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, which to date has helped a bipartisan group of thirty states update over 25 million out-of-date voter records, and helped those states register tens of millions of new eligible voters. 

Before joining Pew, David served for seven years as a senior trial attorney in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, overseeing voting rights enforcement in several states, including California and Georgia, and served as lead counsel on major voting rights litigation, including the case of Georgia v. Ashcroft, ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

David serves as CBS’ election law expert, and his many appearances in the media include The New York TimesThe Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, PBS NewsHour, and NPR, and is frequently published on election issues.

David received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a two-time champion on Jeopardy! and a winner on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Jocelyn Benson

Michigan Secretary of State

Jocelyn Benson is Michigan’s 43rd Secretary of State. In this role, she has ensured elections are secure and accessible, and dramatically improved Secretary of State driver and customer experiences for all Michiganders.

Benson oversaw Michigan’s 2020 presidential election, which drew record-breaking turnout – 5.5 million voters – and was the most secure election in state history. She implemented new voting rights for all eligible Michiganders prior to the election, including the right to vote absentee, and oversaw more than 250 audits after the election, all of which affirmed its integrity and accuracy.

Benson also transformed the customer service operations of the Secretary of State’s office. She doubled the number of services available online, installed more than 160 self-service stations statewide, mostly at grocery stores, and ended the take-a-ticket-and-wait system that had resulted in hours-long lines at offices for years. Now, most transactions are conducted without an office visit at all and when residents do visit an office, they are in and out in an average of 20 minutes or less.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and expert on civil rights law, education law and election law, Benson served as dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. When she was appointed dean at age 36, she became the youngest woman in U.S. history to lead a top-100, accredited law school. She continues to serve as vice chair of the advisory board for the Levin Center at Wayne Law, which she founded with former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. Previously, Benson was an associate professor and associate director of Wayne Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

Benson is the author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. She is also a co-founder and former president of Military Spouses of Michigan, a network dedicated to providing support and services to military spouses and their children.

In 2015, she became one of the youngest women in history to be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2022, she was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her work in protecting democracy.

Bob Bauer

Co-Chair, EOLDN; Former White House Counsel, Obama Administration

Bob Bauer is Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the New York University School of Law and Co-Director of NYU Law’s Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic. Bauer served as White House Counsel to President Obama from 2009 to 2011. In 2013, the President named him to be Co-Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. In 2021, President Biden named him to be co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Bob is co-author with Jack Goldsmith of After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency (2020), books on federal campaign finance and numerous articles on law and politics for legal periodicals. He has co-authored numerous bipartisan reports on policy and legal reform, including “The American Voting Experience: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration” (Presidential Commission on Election Administration, 2014); “The State of Campaign Finance in the United States” (Bipartisan Policy Center, 2018); and “Democratizing the Debates” (Annenberg Working Group on Presidential Campaign Debate Reform, 2015); ; He is a Contributing Editor of Lawfare and has published opinion pieces on constitutional and political law issues in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, among other publications.

Leigh Chapman

Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania

Leigh M. Chapman was appointed Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth on January 8, 2022. In this role, Chapman leads the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The mission of the Department is to promote the integrity of the electoral process, to support economic development through corporate filings and transactions, to protect the health and safety of the public through professional licensure, to maintain registration and financial information for thousands of charities, and to sanction professional boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts events in the commonwealth. The department upholds the highest standards of ethics and competence in the areas of elections, campaign finance, notarization, professional and occupational licensure, and charitable solicitation. 

Previously, Chapman served as executive director of Deliver My Vote. She also held senior leadership positions at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other non-partisan, non-profit election reform and advocacy organizations. From 2015 to 2017, Chapman served as policy director at the Department of State, advancing key agenda items including the implementation of electronic voter registration. 

Chapman earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies and history from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the Howard University School of Law.  

Pam Fessler

Journalist, National Public Radio (ret.)

Pam Fessler is an award-winning correspondent, formerly with NPR News, where she covered poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues. She is also the author of “Carville’s Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice.”

In her reporting at NPR, Fessler addressed homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, and income inequality. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award. Fessler also covered elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She has done countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter identification laws to Russian hacking attempts and long lines at the polls.

She has also served as NPR’s Chief Elections Editor, Washington Desk Editor and National Desk Editor. Before NPR, she covered Congress for 13 years as a senior writer for Congressional Quarterly, and was a reporter for The Record newspaper in New Jersey.

Major Garrett

CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent

Major Garrett was named CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent in December 2018. As Chief Washington Correspondent, Garrett reports for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms and is a substitute anchor of The CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell. Garrett is also the host and creator of “The Takeout,” a weekly multi-platform interview show on politics, policy and pop culture available on CBS News Streaming, top radio stations,  SIRIUSXM, and all podcast platforms. Garrett is also the host and creator of the award-winning documentary podcast “The Debrief.”

From 2012 until 2018, Garrett served as CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent, traveling the world and covering all day-to-day developments of the Obama administration. From 2015 to 2016 Garrett covered the Republican presidential campaign, including every GOP debate, both major party conventions and all general election presidential debates. During the transition, Garrett broke numerous Trump cabinet appointments.  Garrett covered every major domestic and foreign policy story of the Trump administration.

Before joining CBS News as chief White House correspondent, Garrett was a fixture during CBS News’ coverage of Campaign 2012 through a partnership with the National Journal, where he was a senior correspondent and columnist. He co-hosted the network’s 2011 South Carolina Republican Primary debate alongside CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley. 

Prior to National Journal, Garrett was the Senior White House correspondent for Fox News. Before joining Fox News, Garrett was a White House correspondent for CNN. Previously, he was a senior editor and for U.S. News and World Report, where he reported on Congress and the impeachment of President Clinton. 

Garrett is the author of four books: “Common Cents,” with former Rep. Tim Penny (D-Minnesota) Little, Brown Publisher, 1995; “The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics,” St. Martin’s 1999; “The Enduring Revolution,” Crown Forum 2005 and “Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride,” St. Martin’s, 2018.

Garrett graduated in 1984 from the University of Missouri with degrees in journalism and political science. A native of San Diego, California, he lives in Washington, D.C.

Ben Ginsberg

Co-Chair, EOLDN; Counsel, George W. Bush Campaign

Ben Ginsberg is a nationally known political law advocate and compliance expert with 38 years’ experience representing participants in the political process. His clients have included political parties, political campaigns, members of Congress and state legislatures, PACs, governors, vendors and donors. He represented four of the last six Republican Presidential nominees.

His representations ranged across a variety of election law and regulatory issues. He served as co-chair of the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration which produced a much-lauded report on best practices and recommendations for state and local officials to make U.S. elections run better.

Ben is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School. He appears frequently on television as an on-air commentator and has written numerous op-eds. He was a partner at Jones Day from 2014 to 2020 and at Patton Boggs for 23 years before that.

Prior to entering law school, Ben spent five years as a newspaper reporter at The Boston GlobePhiladelphia Evening BulletinThe Berkshire Eagle (Massachusetts), and The Riverside Press-Enterprise (California).

He and his wife, Jo Anne, live in Washington, D.C. and have two children and four grandchildren.

Judge Thomas B. Griffith

Former Federal Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Thomas B. Griffith was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2005. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Judge Griffith was a litigation partner at Wiley, Rein and Fielding in Washington, D. C., prior to being named the nonpartisan Senate Legal Counsel of the United States. In that capacity, he represented the interests of the Senate in litigation and advised the Senate leadership and its committees on investigations, including the impeachment trial of President Clinton. Prior to his appointment to the D.C. Circuit, Judge Griffith was the General Counsel of Brigham Young University. He has long been active in rule of law projects in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. He retired from the D. C. Circuit in 2020. In 2021, President Biden appointed Judge Griffith to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court. Currently he is Special Counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth, a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, and a Fellow at the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University.

Judge J. Michael Luttig

Former Federal Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

J. Michael Luttig served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1991 to 2006. Prior to his time on the bench, Luttig served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel and Counselor to the Attorney General in the Department of Justice under President George H.W. Bush.  Prior to that, Luttig was Assistant Counsel to the President under President Ronald Reagan.  He clerked for then-judge Antonin Scalia on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger at the Supreme Court. After leaving government service in 2006, Luttig entered the private sector, where he was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of The Boeing Company.  After retiring from Boeing, Luttig was named Counselor and Special Advisor to the CEO and Board of The Coca-Cola Company.

Matt Masterson

Former Senior Cybersecurity Advisor, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency

Matt Masterson served as Senior Cybersecurity Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security, where he focused on election security issues. He previously served as a Commissioner at the Election Assistance Commission from December 2014 until March 2018, including serving as the Commission’s Chairman in 2017-2018.

Prior to his appointment with EAC, Commissioner Masterson served as Interim Chief of Staff for the Ohio Secretary of State, a position he held since November 2014, he previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer from 2013 to 2014, as well as Deputy Director of Elections from 2011 to 2013. In these roles Mr. Masterson was responsible for voting system certification efforts by the Secretary of State’s office including being the liaison to the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners. Additionally, Mr. Masterson was in charge of Ohio’s effort to develop an online voter registration database and online ballot delivery for military and overseas voters. He is widely regarded as an expert on elections administration throughout Ohio and the country.

Prior to joining the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, Mr. Masterson held multiple roles at the Election Assistance Commission from 2006 to 2011. Mr. Masterson was Deputy Director for the EAC’s Voting System Testing and Certification Program. In this role Mr. Masterson’s primary responsibility was the creation of the next iteration of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Mr. Masterson worked with the EAC’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the creation of the TGDC’s recommended Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. In addition to these responsibilities, Mr. Masterson managed the day to day business of the EAC’s laboratory accreditation program including the creation of the EAC’s Voting System Test Laboratory Program Manual. Prior to this position Mr. Masterson joined the EAC in 2006 as a Special Assistant/Counsel to Chairman Paul DeGregorio.

Mr. Masterson was admitted to practice law in the State of Ohio in November of 2006. Mr. Masterson graduated from The University of Dayton School of Law in May 2006. At the University of Dayton Mr. Masterson served as the Chief Justice of the Moot Court program and Student Bar Association Vice President. Prior to law school Mr. Masterson received BS and BA degrees from Miami University in Oxford, OH.

Brad Raffensperger

Georgia Secretary of State

Secretary Raffensperger is the CEO and owner of Tendon Systems, LLC. Tendon is a specialty contracting and engineering design firm with nearly 150 employees. The firm has operated in 35 different states. Raffensperger also owns and operates a specialty steel manufacturing plant based in Forsyth County. Additionally, he served two terms in the Georgia General Assembly from 2015-2019.

Brad Raffensperger earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Western University and was awarded his MBA from Georgia State University.  He is a licensed Professional Engineer in over 30 states.

Brad and his wife, Tricia, have been married for 42 years and live in Johns Creek. Brad is a member of North Point Community Church.

Al Schmidt

President & CEO, Committee of Seventy; Former City Commissioner of Philadelphia

Al Schmidt joined the Committee of Seventy as President & CEO in January 2022 after serving ten years as City Commissioner of Philadelphia. The Committee of Seventy is a nonprofit and nonpartisan good government organization focused on strengthening democracy and combating political corruption. As City Commissioner, Al was one of three members on the bipartisan Board of Elections where he served as Vice Chairman. Since first being elected in November 2011, Al worked to modernize election operations, improve efficiency, and bring greater integrity to the election process. Al is an advocate of open data initiatives and releasing previously unavailable election data to the public. He has also produced a number of election-related reports, including investigations that have exposed vulnerabilities in the election process and voting irregularities.

Al is a former senior analyst at the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and served as a policy analyst for the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Al holds a Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University and a B.A. in history from Allegheny College.

Fredreka Schouten

National Political Writer, CNN Politics

Fredreka Schouten is a CNN Politics national political writer, where she focuses on money in politics.

Before joining CNN, Schouten worked at USA TODAY, where she spent a dozen years writing about campaign-finance issues, lobbying and ethics. While there, she tracked the rise of unlimited money in federal politics and the ethics issues that confronted the Trump administration.

Schouten has covered an array of topics in her Washington career, ranging from environmental issues and gambling policy as a correspondent for Western newspapers in the Gannett chain to writing about the passage and implementation of President George W. Bush’s signature education law, the No Child Left Behind Act, as national education correspondent for Gannett News Service. She also has served as a city editor and bureau chief at Gannett newspapers.

Schouten got her start in journalism at The Virgin Islands Daily News, her hometown newspaper. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of the Virgin Islands.

Linda So

Journalist, Reuters

Linda So is an award-winning multimedia investigative journalist for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. Her work exposing threats against election workers spurred federal investigations and multiple legislative reforms. Her reporting has won an array of national honors, including the George Polk, Robert F. Kennedy and Sigma Delta Chi awards. Before joining Reuters in 2013, she had an extensive career as a broadcast journalist, reporting and anchoring for various U.S. network affiliates.

Gabriel Sterling

Chief Operating Officer, Office of the Georgia Secretary of State

Gabriel Sterling is the chief operating officer (COO) in the office of the Georgia Secretary of State. He previously served on the city council for Sandy Springs, Georgia from 2011-2017. He is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in both the private and public sectors.

Wayne Thorley

Former Nevada Elections Director

Wayne Thorley is the former Deputy Secretary of State for Elections in Nevada.  In that role, Mr. Thorley was responsible for overseeing the administration of elections in Nevada and ensuring compliance with all state and federal laws relating to elections.  During his time as Deputy Secretary of State for Elections, Mr. Thorley oversaw the successful implementation of several significant election-related initiatives in Nevada, including automatic voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles and same-day voter registration at the polling place.  After the Nevada Legislature passed a law requiring all active registered voters to automatically receive mail ballot for the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Thorley directed the rollout of this major election overhaul in state where historically less than 10 percent of the voters voted by mail.

Mr. Thorley is currently employed by the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) as the Senate Fiscal Analyst.  In his position as Senate Fiscal Analyst, Mr. Thorley oversees the Fiscal Analysis Division of the LCB and provides professional, independent review and analysis of budgetary and fiscal matters for the Nevada Legislature, including expenditure and revenue projections for the operation of state government.  As Senate Fiscal Analyst, Mr. Thorley assists the Nevada Legislature in interpreting data related to the fiscal operations of state and local government, analyzing state government programs for efficiency and effectiveness, and performing research and analyses related to state and local tax policy.

Mr. Thorley is the former chair of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), as well as the former chair of the Nevada Public Employees’ Deferred Compensation Committee.  Mr. Thorley attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) as both an undergraduate and graduate student where he studied economics.  Mr. Thorley currently lives in northern Nevada with his wife and four children.