The twin impacts of the 2022 elections and the work of the Jan. 6 committee in Congress continue to develop as the new year begins. In this dynamic atmosphere, UCLA School of Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project has assembled a slate of events for the spring semester, kicked off by a conversation with celebrated journalist Rachel Maddow on Jan. 26.

“The January 6 hearings revealed that the country came much closer to a stolen presidential election than many people realize,” said Rick Hasen, professor of law and an internationally renowned election law expert who founded and runs the project. “They highlighted what we have been saying at the Safeguarding Democracy Project: that peaceful transitions of power following elections can no longer be taken for granted, and it is going to take action from people across the political spectrum to assure continued democracy in the United States. We avoided the worst-case scenario in 2022, as many candidates who did not accept the 2020 election results were defeated when they ran for office in contested elections. Congress also passed a major law, on a bipartisan basis, to make manipulating the electoral college rules for picking the president – as we saw attempted in 2020 – less likely.”

Hasen adds, however, that “there are still serious threats and vulnerabilities to our elections.”

In response to continued threats, the project will host a conference at UCLA on March 17, titled “Can American Democracy Survive the 2024 Elections?” Hasen said that the summit “will consider the ongoing problems with free and fair elections in the United States and bring together a multi-disciplinary, multi-partisan diverse group of leaders to discuss issues in law, politics, media and tech and begin to craft suggestions for a successful 2024 election season.”

Eventually, Hasen said, the Safeguarding Democracy Project will spearhead a committee that will issue a set of recommendations in late 2023 to be used for the 2024 elections.

In addition to the conference, the project will continue its free lunchtime webinar series. The spring slate begins with the Jan. 26 presentation by Maddow, whose recent podcast, “Ultra,” explores a lost history of attempted election subversion in the United States during World War II.

Following Maddow, attendees will have the opportunities to hear from authors Jake Grumbach, on Feb. 16, and Joan Donovan on March 2. Grumbach is a political scientist at the University of Washington who will discuss democratic backsliding in states and what can be done about it. Donovan, of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Policy, will talk about meme development and the risks that social media raise for contemporary democracy.

“We will also feature a conversation on what state and local election officials can do to prevent ‘insider threats to elections,’ with two members of the Safeguarding Democracy Project’s advisory board: Colorado’s election director Judd Choate and the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liz Howard,” Hasen said.

Beyond further events that have yet to be announced, the work of the project will continue in other important ways.

“We are expanding our fundraising efforts so that we can start involving students in filing briefs and doing research for reports that can aid in our mission to create and preserve a vibrant and strong democracy in the United States,” Hasen said.

Highlights from the Safeguarding Democracy Project’s spring calendar. Click the links below to register for the events.

Jan. 26
“What ‘Ultra’ Can Teach Us About Threats to American Democracy Today”
12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PST
Conversation between Rachel Maddow and Rick Hasen

Feb. 16
“Laboratories Against Democracy”
12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PST
Conversation between Jake Grumbach and Rick Hasen

March 2
“Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America” (co-sponsored with UCLA Law’s Institute for Technology, Law & Policy)
12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PST
Conversation between Joan Donovan and Rick Hasen

March 17
“Can American Democracy Survive the 2024 Elections?”
Full-day conference, in-person at Covel Commons. This conference will be streamed for those unable to attend in person.
Further details, including registration information, will appear on

April 4
“Confronting the Insider Threat on Election Security and Protecting Election Officials”
12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PST
Panelists: Judd Choate and Liz Howard
Moderator: Rick Hasen