Meet Carnegie Fellow Nate Persily

Continuing its longstanding investment in scholarly research, the Carnegie Corporation of New York established the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program in 2015 to provide a major boost to the social sciences and humanities. Each year, the Corporation provides more than 30 of the country’s most creative thinkers with major grants to support research on challenges to democracy and international order.

Nathaniel A. PersilyAn award-winning teacher and nationally recognized constitutional law expert, Professor Nate Persily, JD ’98, focuses on the law of democracy, addressing issues such as voting rights, political parties, campaign finance and redistricting. A sought-after nonpartisan voice in voting rights, he has served as a court-appointed expert to draw legislative districting plans for Georgia, Maryland and New York and as special master for the redistricting of Connecticut’s congressional districts. Most recently, he also served as the Senior Research Director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, a bipartisan commission created by the President to deal with the long lines at the polling place and other administrative problems witnessed in the 2012 election.  The Report of the Commission is available at

How has the Carnegie Fellows Program impacted your research and overall career?

Persily: Well, I only now just got the fellowship, but I am hoping that the research it supports will allow me to investigate a range of questions dealing with technology and democracy.  In particular, I am interested in examining how the transition from television to on-demand programming and the internet will affect political communication; how the rise of big data firms and microtargeting will affect political parties; and how new technologies of voting will affect election administration and campaigns.

What topics in research do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

Persily: My general area of research is what is now known as the “Law of Democracy.”  I work on issues dealing with voting rights, election administration, political party regulation and campaign finance.  I also do a lot of work on American political polarization and public opinion, especially as it relates to constitutional questions.  My work is accessible through my website and my twitter account @persily.

What would be one piece of advice you would give aspiring social science and humanities students?

Persily: Come to law school!

Read more here about Nate Persily’s work.