Turnout 2020: Reaching America’s Hard-to-Reach Voters in a Pandemic
May 19, 2020
In 2016, 43 percent of eligible voters — nearly 100 million people — didn’t cast a ballot in the presidential election. But why? Was it due to a lack of faith in our election system? Or a deficit of information and interest? Who are these eligible citizens?
A groundbreaking new report by the Knight Foundation seeks to answer these important questions. Its findings have significant implications for the 2020 election and the future of our democracy.
This virtual panel discussion was on America’s widespread problem of disengagement from the political process. How do we bring these voices into our democracy? What structural changes might facilitate greater participation? And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, what steps must we take to prevent even lower voter turnout?
This event was produced in partnership with the Knight Foundation, New York University's John Brademas Center, and the Brennan Center for Justice.
Evette Alexander, Director of Learning and Impact, Knight Foundation
Evette Alexander joined Knight Foundation in January 2019. She oversees a portfolio of research and evaluation efforts that inform the foundation’s impact strategies and thought leadership.
Previously, she served in various internal and external roles as a strategist and senior researcher working to cultivate insights that simplify complexity and enable critical decision-making.
She served as manager of strategy and market intelligence at ADT, where she provided leadership in strategic planning and market analysis in a time of major industry change and disruption. She developed and managed an intelligence program that leveraged primary and secondary research to inform innovation; marketing; mergers and acquisitions; and product development initiatives.
In prior roles as a senior analyst with Kroll Associates and as an independent contractor, she managed strategic research efforts for 30+ Fortune 500/1000 and other multinational clients operating in the U.S., Brazil or other Latin American markets across a wide range of industries, from financial services to fast-moving consumer goods to pharmaceuticals.
Evette Alexander holds a dual Bachelor of Arts with highest honors in economics and political science from the University of Florida and a global Master of Business Administration with highest honors from the University of Manchester in the U.K.
She serves on the board of Touching Miami with Love, a nonprofit providing holistic programming to bolster scholastic achievement and emotional development for under-resourced kids in the Overtown and West Homestead communities.
Trey Grayson, former Secretary of State of Kentucky
Trey Grayson is known as a problem solver and collaborative leader who works with his clients to successfully navigate their government, legal, political, public relations, regulatory, and tax challenges. In addition to his work at FBT, Trey is also a principal in the firm’s public affairs affiliate, CivicPoint.
Prior to joining FBT, Trey served as the president & CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce for three years. At the Chamber, he worked closely with hundreds of volunteer members to accomplish Chamber and regional priorities and was a recognized leader in workforce and regional collaboration.
From 2011 to June 2014, he served as the director the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he worked with 19 staff members and more than 400 undergraduate students to administer the IOP’s programming. While at Harvard, Trey was known as an expert on the political views of millennials and the role of technology in politics and government. He was also extensively involved on campus and served as a freshman academic adviser and faculty fellow for the men’s basketball team.
Prior to his time at Harvard, Trey served as a two-term Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The youngest secretary of state in the country at the time of his election, Trey was recognized as a national leader in government innovation, business services, election modernization, and civic education and served as served as chair of the Republican Association of Secretaries of States and as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, the first Kentuckian to hold either position. Trey was known as an effective advocate for the office in the Kentucky General Assembly with several legislative wins, including the successful effort to modernize Kentucky’s partnership, LLC, and corporate laws, in addition to several election modernization bills.
Trey remains engaged in election modernization with his service on the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration following the 2012 election, and the Commission’s subsequent work to implement its recommendations across the country. He also serves as a founding board member of Democracy Works, best known for its innovative voter registration service, TurboVote.
Before entering politics, Trey practiced with the law firms of Greenebaum Doll & McDonald and Keating, Muething & Klekamp in Cincinnati, focusing on estate planning and administration, real estate, tax, and small business representation.
Trey has strong ties to the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region and is very active in civic and charitable organizations at the local, state, and national levels. He resides in Boone County, Kentucky, with his wife, Nancy, and their daughters, Alex and Kate.
Abby Kiesa, Director of Impact, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Tisch College at Tufts University
Abby serves as CIRCLE’s liaison to practitioner organizations across the country. She communicates research findings and tracks recommendations from young people, youth and youth-serving organizations, educators and youth workers for future research. Abby Kiesa came to CIRCLE from Campus Compact (Providence, RI) where she directed a national campaign to increase college students involvement in public life and facilitate students’ critical role in the call for higher education institutions to fulfill their role as public and community resources. Prior to Campus Compact Abby worked at Madison House at the University of Virginia advising student-led community partnerships. While completing a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Villanova University she served on Villanova’s Taskforce on Service-Learning and co-created a service-learning course within the Center for Peace and Justice Education.
Myrna Pérez, Director, Voting Rights & Elections, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice
Myrna Pérez is director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program, and leads the Program's research, advocacy, and litigation work nationwide. An expert on voting rights and election administration, she is the author of several nationally recognized reports and articles. Her work has been featured in media outlets across the country, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and MSNBC. She has testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights related issues. She is a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School and has also served as an adjunct professor of clinical law at NYU School of Law.
Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil rights law firm in Washington, DC. She graduated from Columbia Law School, where she was a Lowenstein Public Interest Fellow. Following law school, Pérez clerked for Hon. Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for Hon. Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She previously served as the chair of the Election Law Committee of the City of New York Bar Association. Pérez is the recipient of several awards, including the Puerto Rican Bar Association Award for Excellence in Academia and the New Jersey League of Women Voters Making Democracy Work Award, and was named one of 2014’s 50 Hispanic Influentials by Hispanic Business.
Pérez earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Yale University. She obtained a master's degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School, where she was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service. Prior to law school, she was a Presidential Management Fellow, serving as a policy analyst for the United States Government Accountability Office on issues including housing and health care.