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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, with a recent emphasis on the Voting Rights Act and empirical methods for voting rights litigation. Elmendorf has published widely in top journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the New York University Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the California Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, and the Cornell Law Review. His work has also been accepted for publication by peer-reviewed journals such as Political Research Quarterly and the Election Law Journal. In 2012, Elmendorf and Professors Cheryl Boudreau and Scott Mackenzie of the UC Davis Department of Political Science were awarded an Interdisciplinary Research Grant for work on electoral accountability in municipal elections.

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

Racially Polarized Voting, 83 U. Chi. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2016) (with Kevin Quinn & Marisa Abrajano)

Administering Section 2 of the VRA After Shelby County, 115 Colum. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015) (with Douglas M. Spencer)

Lost in Space? Information Shortcuts, Spatial Voting, and Local Government Representation. 68 Pol. Res. Q. (forthcoming 2015) (with Cheryl Boudreau and Scott MacKenzie).

Advisory Rulemaking and the Future of the Voting Rights Act, 14 Election L.J. (forthcoming 2015).

Informing Electorates Via Election Law: An Experimental Study of Partisan Endorsements and Nonpartisan Voter Guides in Local Elections, 14 Election L.J. 2 (2015) (with Cheryl Boudreau & Scott MacKenzie)

The Geography of Racial Stereotyping: Evidence and Implications for VRA Preclearance After Shelby County, 102 Cal. L. Rev. 1123 (2014) (with Douglas M. Spencer)

Are Ballot Titles Biased? Partisanship in California’s Supervision of Direct Democracy, 3 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 511 (2013) (with Douglas M. Spencer)

Informing Consent: Voter Ignorance, Political Parties, and Election Law, 2013 U. Ill. L. Rev. 363 (with David Schleicher)

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

What Kind of Discrimination Does the Voting Rights Act Target?, 160 U. Pa. L. Rev. PENNumbra 357 (2012).

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 (2012) (with Ethan J. Leib).

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)

Refining the Democracy Canon, 95 Cornell L. Rev. 1051 (2010).

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”).

Structuring Judicial Review of Electoral Mechanics: Explanations and Opportunities, 156 U. Pa. L. Rev. 313 (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. 953 (2007). Paper selected for the 2006 Stanford-Yale Junior Faculty Forum.

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

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

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