Daniel Nichanian


Founder and editorial director, The Appeal: Political Report

Creator, What’s On The Ballot

I write on criminal justice, voting rights, local politics and elections, prosecutors, and political theory. I’m the founding editor and editorial director of The Appeal: Political Reporta project of The Appeal that covers the local politics of criminal justice and mass incarceration.

I’ve also created What’s on the Ballot, a guide to local and state elections in the U.S. Basically, all I’m watching and chronicling at a given moment, with an eye to the stakes for the left.

I completed a PhD in political theory in 2016 from the Political Science Department of the University of Chicago, where I worked on democratic theory, contemporary political theory. My research and writings have appeared in The Appeal, The New York Times, The Atlantic, DemocracyFiveThirtyEight, Philosophy & Rhetoric, Syndicate Theology, Daily Kos Elections, The New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, and Vox.

My dissertation, Seizing a Seat at the Table: Participatory Politics in the Face of Disqualification, examined how people work to participate in the business of government when they are not recognized as having the requisite qualifications so. It reconstructed the misunderstood logic of sociopolitical movements—like those of 1870s American suffragists or 1980s AIDS activists—that persist in contributing their views to domains marked by technical expertise, such as constitutional interpretation and scientific decision-making.

My work at The Appeal involves creating, writing on, and editing a new platform that brings local politics into view for a national audience, and sheds light on the political and ideological conflicts that shape local criminal legal systems. Among other topics, I’m interested in reporting on local elections for prosecutors and sheriffs and felony disenfranchisement.