Governing in Crisis: Ensuring our Elections are Fair and Safe


September 23, 2020

David Thornburgh, President and CEO, The Committee of Seventy;  Founder, Draw the Lines;  and Chair, Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission.


On October 31, 2019, Governor Wolf signed into law an historic election reform bill that had moved through the legislature with bipartisan support. Among other reforms, it authorized no-excuse, mail-in voting in Pennsylvania for the first time. That reform faced its first practical test when the pandemic struck, and the volume of mailed ballots cast in the June primary election increased dramatically. Even larger numbers of mailed ballots are expected in the November presidential election, and the intervening months have brought questions about the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service, partisan skirmishing in Harrisburg, and a number of election-related lawsuits.

David Thornburgh – the President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, a good governance advocate, and perhaps Pennsylvania’s leading authority on elections and election reform – discusses these issues and offers practical guidance for those who will be voting in November. Sharing perspectives gained from his service as Chair of the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission and as Founder of Draw the Lines, he also looks ahead to offer insights into the redistricting processes that will follow the completion of the 2020 census.


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  • Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney, Western District of Pennsylvania, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice: "Maintaining Law and Order While Preserving our Democracy" (Oct. 6)
  • Susanne Sachsman Grooms, Deputy Staff Director and Chief Counsel, U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform: "The Role of Oversight in our Democracy" (Oct. 13)