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Type: Public event

The Past, Present, and Future of Elections in Michigan, and Beyond


Christopher Thomas, Former State Director of Elections, Michigan Department of State; Debra Horner, Project Manager, Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)

Date & time

Nov 6, 2017, 11:30 am-1:00 pm EST


Weill Hall, Betty Ford Classroom (1110)
735 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Betty Ford Classroom (1110)
735 S. State Street, Ann Arbor 48109-3091

11:30am-1:00pm (pizza lunch provided)

Free and open to the public

About the lecture:
Since the November 2016 elections, issues surrounding the nuts-and-bolts of election administration have risen to the forefront of discussion and debate, both here in Michigan and across the nation. This CLOSUP event begins with Debra Horner presenting new survey data collected by the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS) exploring views of Michigan's local government leaders on: confidence in the accuracy of Michigan elections; problems experienced in election administration; training of poll workers and clerks who oversee elections; plans to update voting equipment; and support and opposition to a host of potential election reforms. Then Christopher Thomas will explore a range of related issues, placing Michigan’s experiences in broader national context, while discussing the past, present and future of election issues. Thomas will address topics such as voter registration policy and the effects of President Trump's voter fraud commission as well as recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the Voting Rights Act, control of ballots, voting equipment failure, and allegations of Russian interference, ending with thoughts on challenges and reforms going forward.

Dr. Debra Horner is a project manager at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), where she manages the Michigan Public Policy Surveys. She has been a lecturer in the Political Science Department for the past 10 years, and also teaches a class on Michigan Politics and Policy in the Ford School. She received her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2007, and has experience with large-scale survey research projects both in academia and the private sector. Debra's primary areas of research center on individuals’ political attitudes and political participation, as well as a wide range of policy issues at the state and local levels in Michigan.

Christopher M. Thomas retired from the Michigan Department of State on June 30, 2017 after 40 years of election administration service, which included 36 years as Director of Elections. His election related activities include working as a Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and serving on the Boards of two distinguished election organizations: MIT Election Data and Science Lab and U.S. Vote Foundation.

While employed by the Michigan Secretary of State, he administered the Michigan election law, campaign finance act and lobbyist disclosure law. He began his election administration career in 1974 in Washington, D.C. with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Federal Election Commission. In 2013, he was appointed by President Barack Obama as a Commissioner on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which made recommendations to improve the election day experience of America’s voters.

Chris earned a B.A. in Political Science from Michigan State University, a M.A. in Urban Affairs from St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO, and a J.D. from Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing.  He is currently a member of the Michigan State Bar Association and was an Adjunct Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, teaching Election Law between 2001 and 2013. He is a founding member of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and was elected NASED’s President in 1997 and again in 2013. He represented NASED on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission from 2004 to 2017 and served as the Board Chair from 2006 – 2008. At the NASED Summer Conference in 2012 he was honored to receive NASED’s Distinguished Service Award. 

Sponsored by: University of Michigan Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)

Co-Sponsors: Students of Color in Public Policy (SCPP); Domestic Policy Corps (DPC); CivCity; The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area; University of Michigan Ginsberg Center; University of Michigan Political Science Department

For more information visit or call 734-647-4091. Follow on Twitter @closup