Pam Fessler

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty and philanthropy.

In her reporting, Fessler covers homelessness, hunger, and the impact of the recession on the nation's less fortunate. She reports on non-profit groups, how they're trying to address poverty and other social issues, and how they've been affected by the economic downturn. Her poverty reporting was recognized by a 2011 First Place Headliner Award in the human interest category.

Previously, Fessler reported primarily on homeland security, including security at U.S. ports, airlines, and borders. She has also reported on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 Commission investigation, and such issues as Social Security and election reform. Fessler was also 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 oversaw the network's coverage of the impeachment of President Clinton and the 1998 mid-term elections. She was NPR's chief election editor in 1996, and coordinated all network coverage of the presidential, congressional, and state elections. Prior to that role, Fessler was the deputy Washington editor and Midwest National Desk editor.

Before coming to NPR in 1993, she was a senior writer at Congressional Quarterly magazine. Fessler worked at CQ 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, NJ.

Fessler has a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from Douglass College in New Jersey.

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4:45pm

Tue November 13, 2012
The Salt

Storm-Battered Food Banks Struggle To Help The Hungry

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 5:20 pm

After Superstorm Sandy, the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune, N.J., is filled with water bottles, canned food and other goods. But these supplies are going out almost as fast as they come in.
Amy Walters NPR

Food banks in New York and New Jersey were already hard-pressed to meet the demands of families struggling with a bad economy. Add to that a natural disaster and the upcoming holidays, and they're looking at a whole new set of challenges.

Preparation did help some organizations. Five days before Superstorm Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties got its new generator up and running. Thank goodness for that, says Executive Director Carlos Rodriguez.

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3:27am

Thu November 8, 2012
It's All Politics

Fixing Long Election Lines May Be Easier Said Than Done

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 10:46 am

Voters line up in the dark Tuesday to cast their ballots at a polling station in Miami. President Obama said the long lines nationwide were something "we have to fix."
Wilfredo Lee AP

Although voting problems in Tuesday's election were fewer than some people had expected, there were extremely long lines at many polling sites; so many that President Obama noted them in his victory speech.

"I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time," he said, adding, "by the way we have to fix that."

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7:47pm

Tue November 6, 2012
Election 2012

Voting By Email In New Jersey Runs Into Snags

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 8:08 pm

Melissa Block talks with Pam Fessler about voting issues that arose on Tuesday.

4:20pm

Fri November 2, 2012
It's All Politics

What If There's No Winner? Presidential Campaigns And Their Lawyers Prepare

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 5:46 pm

People cast their ballots at an early-voting center in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 15.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

The presidential race is expected to be extremely close, and that has a lot of people nervous about what it will mean for election night.

Does it mean that the vote count could drag on for days, or even weeks, as it did in 2000?

Lawyers for the campaigns, the political parties and state election offices are preparing for the possibility.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted could very well be the man in the middle of any election night storm. By all accounts, the vote in his crucial battleground state will be extremely close.

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5:17pm

Tue October 30, 2012
Election 2012

Large Power Outages Raise Concerns For Election Day

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Looming over the recovery from Super Storm Sandy is what to do about next Tuesday's election? The prospect that some voters could still be displaced or without power a week from today has election officials trying to come up with alternative plans.

It even has some people talking about the highly unusual step of delaying the vote, as NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

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5:02am

Thu October 25, 2012
It's All Politics

Watchdog Groups Prep For Voter Intimidation, Fraud

Originally published on Thu October 25, 2012 7:05 am

A sign directing voters to a polling place is seen during the first day of early voting on Monday in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Concerns about problems at the polls appear to be greater and coming earlier than usual this election year. Already, mysterious phone calls in Florida and Virginia have told voters they can vote by phone — which they cannot do.

And until this week, there were anonymous billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin warning that voter fraud is a felony — which it is.

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1:04pm

Tue October 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Florida Officials Investigate Fake Voter Eligibility Letters

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 1:58 pm

It's a sign that Election Day is getting closer: increasing reports of efforts to intimidate or mislead voters. Florida officials say they're now investigating fake letters that have been sent to voters in at least 20 counties questioning their citizenship and eligibility to vote.

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4:00pm

Thu October 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Swing-State Billboards Warning Against Voter Fraud Stir Backlash

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 8:00 pm

An anonymous "family foundation" is paying for billboards warning against voter fraud, like this one in a minority neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. Clear Channel, which owns the space, says the anonymity violates its policies but it will not take the ads down.
Ken Barcus NPR

Dozens of anonymous billboards have popped up in urban areas in the crucial battleground states of Ohio and Wisconsin. The signs note that voter fraud is a felony, punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Civil rights groups and Democrats complain that the billboards are meant to intimidate voters.

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4:17pm

Mon October 15, 2012
Solve This

Candidates' Views On Poverty Get Little Attention

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 6:46 pm

People eat a free community meal at The Center in Lima, Ohio, earlier this year. Although more than 46 million Americans are poor, the issue has gotten little attention in the presidential race.
Mario Tama Getty Images

The nation's poverty rate is as high as it's been in almost two decades. Last year, 1 in 6 Americans was poor — more than 46 million people, including 16 million children.

But on the campaign trail, the issue of poverty has received surprisingly little attention.

When he first ran for president, Barack Obama went to a low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and spoke passionately about hunger and poverty. He repeated Bobby Kennedy's question in 1967: "How can a country like this allow it?"

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5:05pm

Thu October 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Voter Registration Deadlines Begin Passing This Week

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 5:31 pm

A voter registration form and absentee ballot application at a Franklin County polling place in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday. The deadline to register to vote in Ohio is Oct. 9.
Matt Sullivan Reuters/Landov

If you want to vote in the November elections and you aren't registered yet — you'd better hurry. The registration deadline in five states is this weekend. By the following weekend, the deadline will have passed in more than half the states.

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3:01pm

Fri September 28, 2012
It's All Politics

Citing 'Zero Tolerance' For Voter Fraud, RNC Fires Firm Over Florida Questions

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 4:31 pm

A big embarrassment came this week for the Republican Party, which has made voting integrity and fighting voter fraud a major issue.

A consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in five battleground states has been let go after one of its workers apparently submitted over 100 questionable registration forms in Florida's Palm Beach County.

The party severed its ties with the firm — Strategic Allied Consulting — because it has "zero tolerance" for voter fraud, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.

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3:37am

Thu September 27, 2012
Politics

Pa. Voters Battle Bureaucracy Ahead Of ID Law Ruling

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 9:08 am

Beverly Mitchell shows off her new photo ID card outside a Philadelphia DMV office. She decided to get the card in case a Pennsylvania court rules to allow the enactment of a state law that requires voters to show photo ID in order to vote.
Pam Fessler/NPR

The first sign that getting a new ID isn't going to be easy for Beverly Mitchell and Kathleen Herbert comes before the pair have even left their downtown Philadelphia senior center. As they wait for a ride to a nearby Department of Motor Vehicles office, they get the news: The van that was supposed to take them is broken.

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3:29am

Thu September 20, 2012
Election 2012

Voter Purges Under Review Ahead Of Election Day

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 5:14 am

Noncitizens aren't allowed to vote in federal and state elections, but efforts to remove them from the nation's voter registration rolls have produced more angst than results.

Opponents say the scope of the problem has been overblown; those behind the efforts say they've just begun to look at the problem.

'Early Stages'

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5:54pm

Wed September 12, 2012
Economy

Poverty Rate Unchanged, But Still Historically High

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 9:45 pm

A child waits with a box of food at a mobile food bank in Oswego, N.Y., in June. New census data show that 46.2 million people in the U.S. lived below the poverty line last year.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The U.S. poverty rate last year was unchanged from the year before, according to new figures Wednesday from the Census Bureau. But that still means almost 1 in 6 Americans was poor.

The new data show that 46.2 million people in the U.S. lived below the poverty line — about $23,000 for a family of four. The number of poor was almost exactly the same as it was the year before, but still historically high.

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4:11pm

Mon September 10, 2012
Election 2012

Voting Laws In Several States Remain Unsettled

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 6:26 pm

In South Carolina, Pennsylvania and several other states, new voter ID laws are being challenged in court just eight weeks before the general election.
iStockphoto.com

Eight weeks before the presidential election, new laws passed by Republican legislatures that concern who can vote and when remain in the hands of federal and state judges.

Among the cases: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week will hear an appeal to overturn that state's new voter ID law. An appeal is expected in a case involving early voting in Ohio. And a federal court is still considering whether South Carolina can go ahead with its new voter ID law.

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