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University of California Launches Fair Elections and Free Speech Center

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The University of California Irvine (UCI) School of Law has formally opened its new Fair Elections and Free Speech Center dedicated to helping students and professors address threats to the stability and legitimacy of democratic governments.

The new center will uphold that free speech is essential to vibrant elections, fair competition, and democratic deliberation. It will also utilize resources to boost the confidence of registered voters.

“American democracy is under increasing strain, and the 2020 election exacerbated threats to the rule of law and to public confidence in fair elections,” center director Rick Hasen, told News Wise, adding that the center will help in identifying measures to strengthen democratic institutions in the US and other countries.

Through the newly-established center, UC plans to hold a lecture series on the importance of fair elections and free speech. It will also facilitate “deep scholarships” on American law, politics, democracy, and global norms.

Students at the law school will help the center fulfill its mission by conducting research and supporting cross-disciplinary and transnational dialogue.

‘American Democracy at Stake’

UC chancellor and professor of political science, Howard Gillman, stated that democracy in the US is at a critical stage following the 2020 US presidential election and January 6 attack on the Capitol.

He pointed out that a focused, ongoing initiative to address threats to democracy is vital. He expressed confidence that Hasen and fellow Law professor David Kaye will helm the center successfully.

“I can’t think of a more important time than now, and two better suited experts in their respective fields, to launch and lead this urgent and timely center,” Gillman stated.

Upcoming Events

Now that the center is open, UC Law is working on a three-part series on global elections, exploring disinformation, digital media, and threats to fair elections on September 1.

On September 24, the center will also host an online conference, “Election Subversion: Is American Democracy in Danger?” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenspeger and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will speak at the event.

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