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Students flock to election law class at UW School of Law

John Locher
AP Photo
Election worker scans ballots in Nevada on Nov. 5, 2020

The attempt by President Donald Trump to overturn the election seems to have spurred interest among students in learning more about election law. A winter-quarter class on the topic at the University of Washington School of Law has double the usual number of registrants.UW law school professor Lisa Manheim, who is teaching the election law class, says there are “80 students and counting” signed up. 

She said while it’s usually great to be able to point to real-world examples in class, the Trump lawsuits are of limited use in that regard. 

“There’s, in essence, not a lot to use there as a teaching tool because these lawsuits challenging the election results, they really don’t, on one level, even make sense,” Manheim said.

For the most part, she said, they don’t bring evidence or even try to make their case. So, her plan is to use them as examples of what not to do.

“What we are able to use these lawsuits for is almost as a cautionary tale. If you try to bring a lawsuit, if you haven’t figured out your claim, if you don’t have supporting evidence then that litigation isn’t going to go anywhere, and what we’re seeing is that pattern playing out over and over again in real time,” she said.

Manheim said the students who’ve signed up for the class seem keenly interested in not only learning the complexities of election laws in this country but also in studying ways to improve the system. Manheim said one thing the past month has shown students is just the critical role ot the the judicial system in upholding the rule of law when it comes to elections.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.