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.
Many of them work in service industries —as cooks, Uber drivers, nursing aides— jobs that have been especially affected this past year. "I don't have money to pay rent," resident Mahlet Kassa says.
Congress approved $25 billion in emergency rental assistance to keep people housed during the pandemic, but states are facing glitches on the federal moratorium for renters and landlords.
Among the main targets are requirements such as signing a ballot envelope, or getting a witness or notary to sign it. Small details matter a lot and could affect the outcome in November.
Most places where Americans usually register to vote have been closed since March. It's led to a big drop in new registrations right before an election that was expected to see record turnout.
A slew of lawsuits about mail-in voting have been filed in recent weeks. Some challenge efforts to make it easier to get absentee ballots; others call on states to do more to make voting accessible.
Both parties are turning to the courts to try to ensure that election rules don't disadvantage their side. The litigation campaign has taken on a new urgency amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This week's primary in Wisconsin, which produced long lines of voters waiting in protective gear to cast their ballots, is a dire warning of what could lie ahead.