Spencer Overton is a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University, where he teaches and writes on voting rights. He is the author of the book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression and several academic and popular articles. He helped shape the contours of the modern Voter ID debate with his 2005 dissent from the Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform's photo ID recommendation, and his 2006 Michigan Law Review article "Voter Identification." He also served on the Commission on Presidential Nomination Scheduling and Timing, where he led an effort that resulted in Iowa restoring voting rights to 98,000 Iowans who had completed their sentences.
Spencer is also the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank founded in 1970 to support Black elected officials. The Joint Center’s report Diversity Among Top Senate Staff garnered widespread media attention and prompted the adoption of major U.S. Senate hiring reforms. The Joint Center produces work related to the future of Black communities on issues such as the future of work, 5G and Smart Cities, and the use of mobile apps by Black and Latino businesses.
While working at the 2008 Obama-Biden Transition, Spencer chaired the Election Assistance Commission agency review team. In the first term of the Obama Administration, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice, where he partnered with White House officials to lead the Administration's democracy work and co-chaired the Attorney General's reentry and alternatives to incarceration task forces (many of the groups' proposals have since been implemented). After leaving the Department, Spencer held several leadership roles on the 2012 Obama National Finance Committee, including teaching fundraising at Obama University and chairing a fundraising program that raised $25 million.
Spencer is an honors graduate of both Hampton University and Harvard Law School, and he clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith.