Alumnus Receives Grant to Study National Voter Registration Act

(Grinnell College)
(Grinnell College)

Douglas Hess, CCAS PhD ’12, assistant professor at Grinnell College, recently received a discretionary grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to study effective, low-cost strategies for states to better implement the National Voter Registration Act.

Established in 1993, the NVRA was designed to make voter registration easier and more uniform across states; however, many feel the law is implemented unevenly. “A lot of states don’t implement the [NVRA] law very well,” Hess explains. “Some parts of it they just flat out ignore, and even in states that try to implement it well, some of the counties don’t do it right. We’re looking at ways to enforce the law.”

Hess will work alongside two colleagues from the University of the Maryland and the University of Notre Dame, as well as with Grinnell College students. The grant will last for eighteen months, starting in March 2014. Hess’ research will be conducted through field experiments, statistical analyses of agency data, and case studies.

Since 1994, Hess has been working on the NVRA in various research, consulting and advocacy capacities for nonprofits such as Project Vote. He directed the NRVA Implementation Project at Project Vote from 1994 to 1996.

Hess graduated from Grinnell with a BA in psychology in 1991. He worked with community and labor organizers in the U.S. Later, he directed and advised civil rights and voting rights projects for various nonprofit organizations. Hess obtained his MA in policy studies from Johns Hopkins University in 1999. He received his PhD in public policy, with interests in urban and social policy as well as American politics, from GW, in 2012.

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