Spencer Overton is the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. He has led the Joint Center since February 2014.
Overton is a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University. He is also a Senior Fellow at Demos, a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, and the national chair of public policy for the nation's oldest African-American fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi (the Boule).
Professor Overton’s academic articles on election law have appeared in several leading law journals, and his book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression was published and released by W.W. Norton.
Overton has also served as a commissioner on the Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, and dissented from the Commission’s recommendations regarding photo ID. While serving on the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling, Overton led the effort to encourage Iowa to restore voting rights to citizens who had completed their sentences (in July 2005, Governor Tom Vilsack restored voting rights to 98,000 Iowans who had completed their sentences). He has also served on the Board of Advisers for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and as a board member of several non-profit organizations, including Common Cause, Demos, The Center for Responsive Politics, and the American Constitution Society.
During Professor Overton’s time in the Obama campaign, transition, and Administration (2007-2010), he was a key leader on the Administration’s policy efforts. From 2007-2008, he was chair of Government Reform Policy for the Obama presidential campaign, a group of over 150 expert advisers from around the nation. At the beginning of the Obama Administration, he was appointed the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice. In that position, he participated in daily meetings with the Attorney General and senior Department leadership, and in weekly calls and regular meetings with the White House Domestic Policy Council. He also coordinated with leadership from various agencies outside of the Department of Justice, including but not limited to the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security. He co-chaired Attorney General’s Reentry and Reducing Recidivism Issue Team, comprised of senior representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Bureau of Prisons, and several other components. His Team produced a 90-page report featuring 29 detailed proposals and options (many of which have since been implemented). He also partnered with White House officials to lead policy efforts on democracy issues, which included the Administration’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow unlimited corporate spending in federal elections, as well as conceptualizing and implementing policies related to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Voting Rights Act.
He is a graduate of both Hampton University and Harvard Law School with honors, and he clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith.