Marc Elias

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Marc Elias
Marc Erik Elias

(1969-02-01) February 1, 1969 (age 52)
EducationHamilton College (BA)
Duke University (MA, JD)
EmployerPerkins Coie
Political partyDemocratic

Marc Erik Elias (born February 1, 1969)[1] is an American attorney specializing in election law, voting rights and redistricting.[2] He is a partner at Perkins Coie and head of the firm's political law practice. He served as general counsel for the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign. In 2020 and 2021, on behalf of the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee, Elias oversaw the state-by-state response to lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign contesting the election results.[3] In 2020, he founded Democracy Docket, a website focused on voting rights and election litigation in the United States.

Early life and education[edit]

Born to a Jewish family in New York City, Elias was raised in Suffern, New York.[4] He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Hamilton College in 1990. He then earned both a master's degree in political science from Duke University and a J.D. degree from Duke University School of Law.[5][6][7]


Elias is the head of the Political Law practice at Perkins Coie, a large Seattle-based law firm with many political clients.[8] He represents the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association, and many Democratic members of Congress.[5] He has represented the leadership of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He was general counsel for the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry and the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.[9]

He served as lead counsel for Senator Al Franken in the 2008 United States Senate election in Minnesota recount and contest, the longest recount and contest in American history.[10] Elias has testified on campaign finance before committees in both houses of Congress and before the Federal Election Commission.[11] Elias has worked on voting rights and redistricting lawsuits in more than 25 states, including Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.[12]

In 2010, Elias sought advisory opinions from the Federal Election Commission, declaring that certain online[13][14] advertisements were, like advertisements sent via text, covered by the "small items" and "impracticable" exemptions of the law that otherwise requires advertisements by political committees to include a disclaimer revealing who paid for them.[14] The commission granted the request involving character-limited search advertisements, and deadlocked on the request involving small display advertisements.

In April 2015, Hillary Clinton engaged Elias as attorney of record for her 2016 presidential campaign.[9] According to The Washington Post, in April 2016, Elias hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to create the research that resulted in the Steele dossier.[15] On October 24, 2017, Perkins Coie released Fusion GPS from its client confidentiality obligation.[15]

Elias serves on the Board of Advisors of Let America Vote, an organization founded by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander that aims to end voter suppression.[16]

Elias served as the attorney for Dan McCready during the investigation of fraud allegations in the 2018 election in North Carolina's 9th congressional district.[17] In January 2019, Elias became general counsel of the Kamala Harris 2020 presidential campaign.[18]

Following the 2020 presidential election, Elias supervised the response to dozens of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign seeking to overturn Biden's win.[3] Out of 65 such court cases, Elias prevailed in 64.[19] In 2021, as several Republican-dominated state legislatures passed laws to tighten election procedures and voting requirements, Elias filed suits challenging the new laws, often within hours of the bills being signed.[19]

Sanction by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals[edit]

On March 12, 2021, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued sanctions on Marc Elias and other Perkins Coie attorneys for "redundant and misleading" motions related to a case in which Marc Elias and his legal team argued that the elimination of straight-ticket voting in Texas disproportionately affected minorities. In the ruling, the court stated that Elias and his team "did not notify the court that their latest motion to supplement the record filed on February 10, 2021 was nearly identical to the motion to supplement the record filed several months ago by the same attorneys, on September 29, 2020." Similarly, the court said that "this inexplicable failure to disclose the earlier denial of their motion violated their duty of candor to the court.” The court ordered the listed attorneys to pay double costs and " reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs incurred by Appellant with respect to Appellees’ duplicative February 10, 2021 motion." The cost of the latter is still to be determined by the court. The court also recommended, but not required, that the attorneys review the Court's rules of professional conduct and "complete one hour of Continuing Legal Education in the area of Ethics and Professionalism, specifically candor with the court."[20]

After the ruling, Perkins Coie released a statement saying "We do not normally respond to requests for comment on pending litigation, but the firm and the attorneys involved in this matter strongly disagree with the appellate court’s ruling and its order of sanctions in this case. The firm fully and completely supports our attorneys in this case.”[21]

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also released a statement after the ruling, saying "Elias has no valid explanation for the misleading submissions to the Fifth Circuit. Even when they were notified that they violated ethical rules, they refused to withdraw their motion. They were aware of their violations and blatantly chose to ignore them."[22]


  1. ^ This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-4529-1544-9.
  2. ^ "Marc E. Elias". Perkins Coie. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  3. ^ a b Goldmacher, Shane (2020-09-14). "Biden Creates Legal War Room, Preparing for a Big Fight Over Voting". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  4. ^ October 31; 2014 (2014-10-31). "Marc Elias Represents Nearly Every Dem. Senator". Jewish Insider. Retrieved 2020-03-21.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b "Perkins Coie Homepage". Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  6. ^ "Hillary Clinton Quietly Hires Jewish Campaign Finance Lawyer". Jewish Political News and Updates. via Wayback Machine. March 5, 2015. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-4529-1544-9.
  8. ^ "Political Parties, Campaigns and Committees". Perkins Coie. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Haberman, Maggie (March 4, 2015). "Clinton Hires Campaign Lawyer Ahead of Likely Run". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  10. ^ Weiner, Jay (2010). "This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount". University of Minnesota Press. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  11. ^ "Arena Profile: Marc Elias". Politico. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (October 31, 2014). "Senate Democrats' Super Lawyer Preps for Overtime". Roll Call. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  13. ^ "Letter from Marc Elias to the Federal Elections Commission on behalf of Google (August 5, 2010)" (PDF). Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Letter from Marc Elias to the Federal Election Commission on behalf of Facebook (April 26, 2011)" (PDF). Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  15. ^ a b Entous, Adam; Barrett, Devlin; Helderman, Rosalind S. (25 October 2017). "Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier". The Washington Post. p. A1. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Advisors". Let America Vote. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  17. ^ Long, Travis (February 21, 2019). "McCready attorney talks with reporters after Mark Harris calls for new election". The News & Observer.
  18. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (January 21, 2019). "Kamala Harris launches campaign for president". Politico. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  19. ^ a b Abramson, Alana (April 6, 2021). "Marc Elias Fought Trump's 2020 Election Lawsuits. Can He Win The Battle Over Voting Rights?". Time. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Court Sanctions against Marc Elias and Perkins Coie lawyers" (PDF).
  21. ^ Journal, A. B. A. "5th Circuit sanctions Marc Elias and other Perkins Coie lawyers for 'redundant and misleading' motion". ABA Journal. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  22. ^ "AG Paxton: Fifth Circuit Issues Sanctions Against Perkins Coie". Texas Attorney General. Retrieved 2021-04-02.