John FortierOpening Keynote Speaker - John C. Fortier

 John C. Fortier joined the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in April 2011. He is a political scientist who focuses on governmental and electoral institutions. Prior to coming to BPC, he was a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he also served as the principal contributor to the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project, the executive director of the Continuity of Government Commission, and the project manager of the Transition to Governing Project. He was also a regular contributor to AEI’s Election Watch series. He also served as the director of the Center for the Study of American Democracy at Kenyon College.

Mr. Fortier has a Ph.D. in political science from Boston College and a B.A. from Georgetown University. He is the author of Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises and Perils (AEI Press: 2006), author and editor of After the People Vote: A Guide to the Electoral College, and author and co-editor with Norman Ornstein of Second Term Blues: How George W. Bush Has Governed (Brookings Press: 2007), and numerous academic articles in political science and law journals.

Mr. Fortier has been a regular columnist for The Hill and Politico. Fortier is a frequent commentator on elections and government institutions and has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, CNN, Fox News, PBS’s News Hour, CBS News, NBC’s Today Show, C-SPAN, NPR, Bloomberg, and BBC. He has taught at Kenyon College, University of Pennsylvania, University of Delaware, Harvard University and Boston College.

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KY SOS GrimesFeatured Keynote Speaker - Alison Lundergan Grimes

Alison Lundergan Grimes is Kentucky’s 76th Secretary of State and only current female Constitutional Officer. She is also the youngest female Secretary of State nationwide. Secretary Grimes has a lifelong commitment to public service and, in particular, protecting the right to vote. She grew up canvassing Kentucky’s precincts and counties to make sure all citizens had access to the polls on Election Day.

In 2011, Secretary Grimes left her successful law practice to dedicate herself full time to serving the citizens of Kentucky. She visited every area of the Commonwealth, speaking with citizens in every facet of our state, including county clerks, business owners, educators, veterans, and victims of domestic violence, learning about the issues that confront Kentuckians and listening to their ideas to improve our great Commonwealth.

From the start of her campaign, Secretary Grimes vowed to preserve and protect all eligible Kentuckians’ access to the ballot box, especially for our men and women in uniform and Kentucky veterans. Since taking office in January 2012, Secretary Grimes has worked hard to reach that goal.

In addition to meeting with armed services members in Kentucky to educate them about voter registration and the absentee voting process, in September, Secretary Grimes traveled to the Middle East to meet with soldiers stationed in Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar to assess and make improvements to military voting procedures. Her proposals to improve military access to the polls in Kentucky – including online registration and email transmission of executed ballots – have received bipartisan support from members of the General Assembly. And earlier this year, she filed a lawsuit and obtained a court order that extended the time uniformed service voters had to cast ballots in special elections, ensuring military members’ right to vote was not compromised.

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Peter LevineFeatured Keynote Speaker - Peter Levine

Peter Levine is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs and Director of CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. His primary appointment is in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and he has a secondary appointment in the Tufts philosophy department. Levine graduated from Yale in 1989 with a degree in philosophy. He studied philosophy at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 1992. From 1991 until 1993, he was a research associate at Common Cause. In the late 1990s, he was Deputy Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal.

Mr. Levine is the author of the forthcoming book We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Philosophy and Practice of Civic Renewal (Oxford University Press, 2013), Reforming the Humanities: Literature and Ethics from Dante through Modern Times (2009), The Future of Democracy: Developing the Next Generation of American Citizens (2007), three other scholarly books on philosophy and politics, and a novel. He also co-edited The Deliberative Democracy Handbook (2006) with John Gastil and Engaging Young People in Civic Life (2009) with Jim Youniss and co-organized the writing of The Civic Mission of Schools, a report released by Carnegie Corporation of New York and CIRCLE in 2003 ( He has served on the boards or steering committees of AmericaSpeaks, Street Law, the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, the Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association Committee’s for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

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Featured Keynote Speaker - John Lindback

John Lindback

John Lindback is a senior officer for Election Initiatives, providing key leadership on Pew’s portfolio of work in election administration, including research and reform efforts to improve military and overseas voting; assess election performance through better data; use of technology to provide voters with information they need to cast a ballot; and upgrade voter registration systems.

As a lead on Pew’s work to upgrade voter registration, Lindback works with state and local elections officials and other stakeholders to identify solutions to the problems of inaccuracy, inefficiency, and high costs of voter registration in the states. He meets with elections officials throughout the nation to share results of key research, explain evidenced-based policy options, and urge state and local action.

Prior to joining Pew, Lindback served for 14 years in state elections administration. He spent eight years as director of elections in Oregon, which made him the chief administrator for the conduct of all elections in Oregon, the state’s campaign finance system, and Oregon’s ubiquitous and contentious initiative and referendum process. During his tenure with the Oregon Secretary of State, he was elected president in 2008 of the National Association of State Elections Directors.  He was also chosen to serve on the executive board of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s Standards Advisory Board. Prior to his work in Oregon, Lindback worked as chief of staff to the lieutenant governor of Alaska for six years, including administrative oversight of the Alaska Division of Elections.  In addition, he served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that studied state voter registration databases. Since 2006, he has volunteered as an advisor to Design for Democracy, an organization that assists elections officials with designing voter-friendly ballots and other elections materials.

Lindback holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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Mark RitchieFeatured Keynote Speaker - Mark Ritchie

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie partners with township, city, and county officials to organize elections on behalf of Minnesota’s 3.7 million eligible voters.

Secretary Ritchie served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State during 2011 and has been a member of the NASS executive board since 2010. He was recently appointed by Governor Dayton to co-chair the Civil War Commemoration Task Force. Secretary Ritchie has been a faculty member for election law seminars conducted by the Minnesota Institute for Legal Education, the Minnesota and Hennepin County Bar Associations, the University of Minnesota and William and Mary Law School.

The Department of the Army presented Secretary Ritchie with their Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service.  He was recognized for his dedicated support to the well-being of soldiers and army families, "Secretary Ritchie's unwavering dedication, patriotism, and compassion are an inspiration and reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Army Recruiting Command, the United States Army Accessions Command and the United States Army."

The 2011 Dwight David Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Award was presented to Secretary Ritchie.  This award recognizes the promotion of peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation; one individual at a time, one community at a time.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie received the 2011 Distinguished Public Leadership Award from Toward Zero Deaths for his leadership in helping to motivate law enforcement officers, legislators and the public to continue to fight against drunk driving.

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Matt SegalFeatured Keynote Speaker - Matthew Segal

Matthew Segal is President & Co-Founder of OURTIME. Matthew founded the Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE) at Kenyon College in 2007 after many students had to wait in line for 12 hours just to vote. Following the 2008 election, Matthew gave himself two options: build an organization out of SAVE that’s relevant year-round — not only around elections — or follow Bob Dylan around the country. He now does both.

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Claire SmithFeatured Keynote Speaker - Claire Smith

Claire M. Smith received her PhD in political science from the University of Notre Dame in May 2005, where she specialized in comparative party and campaign finance. She taught as an adjunct professor of politics at the University of Oldenburg, Germany from 2005 to 2006. She became a CELTA certified English instructor in 2006 and has taught Business English as a free lance instructor since then.
In September 2008, Dr. Smith joined Overseas Vote Foundation as a volunteer. During the presidential election, Dr. Smith worked a front line support position on the Voter Help Desk, communicating to US voters around the world. In January 2009, Dr. Smith joined with OVF's post-election research team where she used her research experience to analyze and write the 2008 Post Election UOCAVA Voter and Election Official Research Reports. Dr. Smith is now charged with managing OVF's research program and acting as an intermediary to the academic and professional research community, as well as developing and executing against OVF's own research objectives.
Dr. Smith currently lives with her husband and young son in Wildeshausen, Germany, where she continues to teach business English. In addition to her work with OVF, Dr. Smith currently volunteers as a regional representative for American Citizens Abroad. 

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Susan, OVFHost and Speaker - Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat

Ms. Dzieduszycka-Suinat is President, CEO and cofounder of Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF),, and U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote), These nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations help US domestic, absentee, overseas and military voters participate in federal elections by providing public access to interactive web services.

Ms. Dzieduszycka-Suinat is responsible for OVF's and US Vote’s strategic planning and operations including technical development, marketing, licensing, conference and alliance programs. She spearheaded the organization’s successful “3D” strategy of Development (technology), Data (research) and Dialogue (conference program) to foster an environment that supports innovation and results in meaningful electoral reform.

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