Hi, I’m Alyssa Pooler, a rising third year student at Villanova University in the joint JD/Master of Public Administration program and a new legal intern with FairVote’s Law and Policy department. As an undergrad, I studied at Boston University, but returning home to the suburbs of Philadelphia for law school was very gratifying. Amplifying the voices of historically marginalized communities is a pursuit that has always interested me and I am excited to join FairVote this summer to continue doing this.
From a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. My parents exposed me to the good that lawyers could do while I was growing up. In college I studied international relations because I was interested in America’s involvement in the Middle East. Originally, I thought I would prosecute terrorism or work in a national security capacity for the federal government and the summer prior to law school, I worked for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, to start working towards this goal.
My time at the Philadelphia DA’s office exposed me to social inequalities in the city, which brought me a deeper awareness of such disparities throughout America. I saw defendants and victims come into the courtroom everyday whose lives were impacted from a lack of access to economic security, as well as a lack of access to good educational opportunities. I realized that being a lawyer gave me a unique opportunity to fix the systemic conditions that were bringing defendants and victims into the courtroom everyday.
This led me to intern the following summer in Washington for Congressman Robert Brady, whose First Congressional District contains a good portion of Philadelphia. From there, I was able to work on issues that impacted Philadelphians on a federal level. During this internship, I fell in love with almost every issue area I worked on (besides tax law), yet I was concerned about finding the issue area where I could have the most impact.
As it turned out, in the fall I was moved to the House Committee on House Administration, where my boss is the ranking member. The committee has jurisdiction on the oversight of federal elections and I found my calling in election law. During my time with the committee I realized that if citizens do not have an equal right to vote, all the advocacy in the world cannot help until we can make systemic changes to how people are elected and represented by their leaders.
This experience forged my desire to focus on election law, particularly giving voters a stronger voice in their democracy and ensuring the integrity of our elections. Ranked choice voting and multi-winner legislative districts help give those who have been historically marginalized a greater chance of having their voice heard and an accurate representation of their interests. I am excited to join FairVote’s Legal and Policy department to help continue advancing the voices of Americans in our democracy.