Daniel Nichanian


I’m a writer and journalist who works on criminal justice, voting rights, local politics and elections, U.S. and occasionally French politics, and political theory.

From 2018 to June 2021, I was the founding editor and editorial director of The Political Reporta project hosted at The Appeal that covered the local politics of criminal justice and mass incarceration. Through writing and editing, I worked to shed light on the political and ideological conflicts that shape local criminal legal systems

In 2018, I 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.

With the Political Report and What’s on the Ballot alike, my aim has been to bring to light the overlooked stakes of local election and institutions for political power and policy-making.

My writings, reporting, and research have appeared in The Appeal, The New York Times, The Atlantic, FiveThirtyEight, Democracy, Philosophy & Rhetoric, Syndicate Theology, Daily Kos Elections, The New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, Vox, and more. I’ve frequently discussed U.S. politics in media appearances. In 2016, I also co-created a podcast series (“Floor Flight”) on the 2016 presidential primaries.

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 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. From 2016 to 2018, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the social sciences at the University of Chicago.

You can follow me on Twitter, @Taniel.