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.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have canceled their respective rallies tonight in Cleveland, Ohio, with the campaigns citing public health concerns amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Voters waited up to seven hours in line to cast ballots yesterday. As NPR's Pam Fessler reports, problems were especially bad in Texas and California, even though voters had more options than ever before, such as early voting and vote-by-mail.

Elections can be very tactile. Touchscreen voting machines, paper ballots, large crowds.

When primary voters go to the polls in South Carolina on Saturday, they'll be the first in the nation to use all-new voting equipment. It's one of about a dozen states replacing all or most of their voting machines this year, in part because of security concerns after Russian interference in the 2016 election.

South Carolina officials are eager to emphasize the reliability of their state's equipment following the Iowa caucuses debacle, where a flawed app delayed the reporting of accurate results for weeks.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A nonprofit group wants to see more unmarried women, young people and people of color on the nation's voter rolls, so it recently sent 9 million letters urging those groups to register.

But the mailers have upset some election officials, who say they've left voters confused.

The mailers clearly state that they're from the Voter Participation Center or its sister organization, the Center for Voter Information. But the letter inside looks like it could come from the government.

Nevada Democrats are trying to figure out how to avoid the confusion and embarrassment that their fellow Democrats experienced in this week's Iowa caucuses.

Right after a new smartphone app failed miserably to transmit the Iowa results on Monday night, Nevada state Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II issued a statement saying "confidently" that what happened in Iowa would not happen in Nevada on Feb. 22, the date of its party caucuses.

Hundreds of people returning to the U.S. from Wuhan, China face mandatory two-week quarantines. And in China, the government is rounding up those who show signs of the deadly coronavirus, to be confined in massive quarantine centers.

Protecting public health is a delicate balance between the rights and freedom of individuals and the safety of society. But past efforts to isolate disease show that such moves — as well-intentioned as they might be — don't always go as planned. And perhaps offer a cautionary lesson.

If the Iowa caucuses were a pop quiz on how well the nation is prepared for the 2020 elections, it looks like almost everyone failed. Or at least that they need to do a lot more remedial work.

Pages