Fall 2020 Communiqué Magazine

Dear friends and colleagues,


Welcome to the first-ever digital-only issue of the Ash Center magazine The Communiqué.


With the election just days away, we at the Ash Center have been busy as never before working to understand this extraordinarily unique and consequential presidential vote with a series of riveting discussions, commentary, and analysis on what the election portends for the future of democracy in America. Of course, the elections are being held this fall as the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom over nearly all aspects of public life throughout much of the country.


As you’ll see below, throughout the year, we have pivoted to react and reflect upon these unprecedented times. An example of this is the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative’s work to bring resources on crisis leadership and public health to hundreds of mayors and city leaders around the world struggling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the country was grappling with the effects of the pandemic this summer, the killing of George Floyd laid bare for all of us to see the continued injustices faced by communities of color more than half a century after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington. The Ash community responded with a series of deeply impactful discussions on the history of policing in the United States, Black protest movements, and the future of Black Lives Matter. Finally, as the pandemic has upended nearly everything about our elections, Ash has been at the forefront of efforts at Harvard to ensure the entire University community can safely access the polls.


I invite you to explore below the various features, profiles, and news briefs about the Center’s activities over what has truly been a year unlike any other.



Tony Saich
Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
Daewoo Professor of International Affairs
Harvard Kennedy School

Feature Story

Is Mandatory Voting the Answer to Our Voting Wars? 

Political and legal fights over voter registration deadlines and polling locations are only intensifying as the United States lurches towards one of the most consequential and unprecedented elections in generations, leaving leading many observers rightly asking, “does it have to be this way?” Ash Center Fellow Miles Rapoport has helped ignite a public debate on implementing universal voting. 

Feature Story

Black Lives, Protest, and Democracy  

“Black people have been fighting for the right to live forever. All of American history is filled with stories about Black people trying to live…and if you don't know that, you have to think about why you don't know that history," said Megan Ming Francis during an Ash Center discussion with leading scholars and practitioners.

Feature Story

Finding Allies and Making Revolution

Using newly available source materials, Tony Saich tells the story of a Dutch Communist—little known outside of Holland—named Henk Sneevliet and his role in sparking the communist revolution in China.


Student, Fellow, and Alumni Profiles

In Conversation With

Also in this Issue