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Christopher S. Elmendorf

Professor of Law


B.A., With Highest Honors Economics, Oberlin College 1994

J.D., Yale Law School 2001


Professor Elmendorf's varied teaching and research interests include election law, administrative law, statutory interpretation, constitutional law, and property and natural resources law.  He writes mostly on the subject of elections.  In recent and forthcoming papers, he explores the consequences of election law for political party branding and the performance of low-information electorates; the propriety of categorizing "the electorate" as a state actor under the U.S. Constitution and what this implies for judicial interpretation of the Voting Rights Act; the contextual factors that influence policy-based and racial voting in municipal elections; and the administration of direct democracy.  His work has been published in the Yale Law Journal, the New York University Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the California Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, the Cornell Law Review, and the Election Law Journal, among other leading journals.  In 2012, Elmendorf and Professors Cheryl Boudreau and Scott Mackenzie of the UC Davis Department of Political Science were awarded an Interdisciplinary Research Grant to develop new empirical methods for answering central questions that arise in Voting Rights Act cases.

Subject Areas

Election Law, Administrative Law, Statutory Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Natural Resources

Selected Career Highlights

  • Law Clerk, Judge Guido Calabresi, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 2002-2003.

Selected Publications

Are Ballot Titles Biased? Partisanship in California's Supervision of Direct Democracy, 3 U.C. L. Rev. (forthcoming) (with Douglas M. Spencer)

Informing Consent: Voter Ignorance, Political Parties, and Election Law, 2012 U. Ill. L. Rev. (forthcoming) (with David Schleicher)

Districting for a Low Information Electorate, 121 Yale L.J. 1846 (2012) (with David Schleicher)

Making Sense of Section 2: Of Biased Votes, Unconstitutional Elections, and Common Law Statutes, 160 U. Pa. L. Rev. 377 (2012)

Why Party Democrats Need Popular Democracy and Popular Democrats Need Parties, 100 Cal. L. Rev. 69 (with Ethan J. Leib)

Refining the Democracy Canon, 95 CORNELL L. REV. 1051 (2010)

Empirical Legitimacy and Election Law, in RACE, REFORM, AND REGULATORY INSTITUTIONS: RECURRING PUZZLES IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY (Heather K. Gerken, Guy Uriel E. Charles, & Michael S. Kang eds., 2011)

Making Democracy Work in San Francisco, S.F. CHRONICLE, Feb. 28 2010 (with David Schleicher)

Budgets by the People, for the People, N.Y. TIMES, July 27 2009 (with Ethan J. Leib)

Policing the Politics of Electoral Reform: Some Unanswered Questions About Partisanship, Public Confidence, and the Prospects for a Salutary Judicial Role, Duke Law School (conference on “The Future of Elections Scholarship,” sponsored by the Tobin Foundation), Feb. 2009

Gatekeeping vs. Balancing in the Constitutional Law of Elections: Methodological Uncertainty on the High Court, 17 William & Mary Bill Rts. J. 507 (2008) (with Edward B. Foley) (symposium on “How We Vote”)

Undue Burdens on Voter Participation: New Pressures for a Structural Theory of the Right to Vote?, 35 Hastings Const. L. Q. 643 (2008) (symposium on “Frontiers of Democracy”)

Brief of Amici Curiae Professors Christopher S. Elmendorf and Daniel P. Tokaji in Support of Petitioners, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S.Ct. 1610 (2008)

Two Models for Building Public Confidence in the Electoral Process, Two Models for Building Public Confidence in the Electoral Process

On Choosing the Right Guide: Crawford & The Carter-Baker Commission Revisited, Balkinization, June 3, 2008

Judicial Review of Electoral Mechanics After Crawford, Election Law @ Moritz, May 6, 2008

On Lopez Torres and Line Drawing, Election Law @ Moritz, Jan. 22, 2008

Structuring Judicial Review of Electoral Mechanics, Part I: Explanations and Opportunities, 156 U. Pa. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2007)

N.Y. State Bd. of Elections v. Torres: Is the Right to Vote a Constitutional Constraint on Party Nominating Conventions?, 6 Election L. J. 399 (2007)

Advisory Counterparts to Constitutional Courts, 56 Duke L.J. 1366 (2007).  Paper selected for the 2006 Stanford-Yale Junior Faculty Forum.

Election Commissions & Electoral Reform: An Overview, 5 Election L.J. 425 (2006).

Burdick or Carrington?: ‘Fencing Out’ and the Voter ID Litigation, Election Law @ Moritz, Sept. 12, 2006

Representation Reinforcement Through Advisory Commissions: The Case of Election Law, 80 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1366 (2005).

Next Time, Start with the People, Balkinization, Nov. 10, 2005 (with Heather Gerken)

Reforming the Politics of Election Law Reform: The Contribution of Nonpartisan Electoral Bodies, Moritz College of Law (conference on “Independent Election Administration: Who Draws the Lines, and Who Counts the Votes?”), Sept. 2005

Securing Ecological Investments on Other People’s Land: A Transaction-Costs Perspective, 44 NAT. RESOURCES J. 529 (2004). (symposium on “Private Lands Conservation: Institutions and Instruments”)

Ideas, Incentives, Gifts, and Governance: Toward Conservation Stewardship of Private Land, In Cultural and Psychological Perspective, 2003 U.ILL. L. REV. 423.

Note, State Courts, Citizen Suits, and the Enforcement of Federal Environmental Law by Non-Article III Plaintiffs, 110 YALE L. J. 1003 (2001).