Pam Fessler

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.

In her reporting at NPR, Fessler does stories on homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, and income inequality. She reports on what non-profit groups, the government, and others are doing to reduce poverty and how those efforts are working. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award.

Fessler also covers elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She has done countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter identification laws to Russian hacking attempts and long lines at the polls.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Fessler became NPR's first Homeland Security correspondent. For seven years, she reported on efforts to tighten security at ports, airports, and borders, and the debate over the impact on privacy and civil rights. She also reported on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, The 9/11 Commission Report, Social Security, and the Census. Fessler was one of NPR's White House reporters during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Before becoming a correspondent, Fessler was the acting senior editor on the Washington Desk and NPR's chief election editor. She coordinated all network coverage of the presidential, congressional, and state elections in 1996 and 1998. In her more than 25 years at NPR, Fessler has also been deputy Washington Desk editor and Midwest National Desk editor.

Earlier in her career, she was a senior writer at Congressional Quarterly magazine. Fessler worked there for 13 years as both a reporter and editor, covering tax, budget, and other news. She also worked as a budget specialist at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and was a reporter at The Record newspaper in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Fessler has a master's of public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from Douglass College in New Jersey.

Signs of a tattered, but resilient, voting system were on full display this week, as one of the most contentious elections in U.S. history rolled toward completion.

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Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

Though all evidence points to the contrary, President Trump's campaign is insisting that Trump has a path to reelection victory and that it will pursue legal challenges to results in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. To date, the campaign has lost more than two dozen challenges filed since the Nov. 3 election in which Joe Biden has been declared the decisive winner.

Updated at 9:26 p.m. ET

Things did not go well Tuesday for the Trump campaign's effort to stop certification of the Pennsylvania vote count — which has Joe Biden ahead by more than 73,000 votes.

Efforts to protect U.S. elections from disinformation are proceeding amid reports that the head of the agency in the Department of Homeland Security that oversees election security expects to be fired soon by the White House.

Christopher Krebs, director of DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, spearheaded an agency campaign to counter rumors about voter fraud and election irregularities.

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The 2020 elections could have been a disaster, with a pandemic, social unrest, constant litigation and a deeply divided electorate. But to the surprise of many election officials and observers, it all went exceptionally well. NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

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And that's a good point to bring in Pam Fessler, who covers voting issues for NPR, and is paying, of course, special attention to Pennsylvania, among other states. Pamela, good morning.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Good morning.

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All right. Let me bring in another trusted NPR voice on elections, NPR's Pam Fessler, who has been monitoring voting today all over the country.

Hey there, Pam.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

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Updated 10:52 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 vote, has reaffirmed a lower court's block on Wisconsin's plan that would have allowed ballots in the state to arrive up to six days after Election Day. Democrats and progressive groups asked the justices to intervene after a federal appeals court blocked the ballot-receipt plan.

Republicans argue that the deadline extension threatens the integrity of the election by changing the rules too close to the election, an argument they have made in similar cases.

Dirty tricks and disinformation have been used to intimidate and mislead voters for as long as there have been elections. But they have been especially pervasive this year as millions of Americans cast ballots in a chaotic and contentious election.

This has led to stepped-up efforts by election officials and voter advocates to counter the disinformation so voters are not discouraged from turning out.

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The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that election officials in Pennsylvania can count absentee ballots received as late as the Friday after Election Day so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

The court declined without comment to take up one of the highest-profile election law cases in the final stretch before Election Day. Pennsylvania Republicans had sought to block the counting of late-arriving ballots, which the state's Supreme Court had approved last month.

Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots could be rejected this November because of mistakes, such as missing or mismatched signatures. Voter advocacy groups, political parties and others are rushing to help voters fix — or "cure" — their ballots before it's too late, so they can be counted.

Common Cause is one of many organizations actively calling voters in key battleground states, where even a small number of rejected ballots could make a big difference in the outcome of a close election.

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Concern is growing over potential confrontations at polling places due to deep partisan divides and baseless claims by President Trump that Democrats will "steal" the election.

In Tuesday night's debate with Democrat Joe Biden, Trump repeated his attacks on widespread mail-in voting, calling it a "disaster" and saying "this is not going to end well."

The president also urged his supporters, as he has done before, "to go into the polls and watch very carefully."

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Election workers around the country are preparing for what could be one of the most chaotic elections in history. There's not only a pandemic, but dozens of ongoing legal fights over voting rules. That's left a lot of things up in the air only weeks before Election Day.

In election offices such as the one in Lehigh County, Pa., workers are trying to deal with the uncertainty.

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The 2020 general election has begun with North Carolina becoming the first state to start mailing out absentee ballots on Friday, two months before Election Day.

Other states will begin doing the same over the next few weeks in an election that's expected to break all records in the number of ballots cast early and by mail. Minnesota will be the first state to offer early in-person voting starting Sept. 18, with many states following not long afterward.

An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year's presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR.

That's far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time.

Cuts to the U.S. Postal Service have led to widespread concerns about mail-in ballots arriving on time in November. Tens of thousands of ballots have already been rejected this year because they were received after the deadline.

Now, a number of states are extending those deadlines, so ballots only need to be postmarked by Election Day, instead of received by Election Day, which is currently the law in most places.

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Election officials are seeking clarification from the Postal Service about how recent cutbacks will affect what's expected to be an avalanche of mail-in voting in the upcoming election. Changes in postal operations have already led to mail delays across the country, raising alarms about what will happen in November.

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