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Katy Harriger - Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC, US

Katy Harriger Katy Harriger

Professor of Political Science | Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC, UNITED STATES

Harriger is an expert on political participation and voting among college-age people. She is also an expert on federal special prosecutors.



Research on young people and civic engagement demonstrates that they are very turned off by the extreme partisan polarization that characterizes American politics, says Harriger. Will young voters turn out in 2016? She studies political participation and voting among young people and is the co-author of a new multi-year study showing that college students who participate in public deliberation and learn to talk with those with differing viewpoints, are more politically involved later. She can also comment on women in politics and whether or not a woman can be elected president. She has also researched the changing composition of the Supreme Court. Harriger is the co-author of Speaking of Politics: Preparing College Students for Democratic Citizenship through Deliberative Dialogue and three other books. Inspired by the Watergate hearings of her college years, Harriger has also studied the use of federal special prosecutors in American government and is the author of The Special Prosecutor in American Politics. Will young voters turn out in 2016? Can a woman be elected president?

Areas of Expertise (6)

American Constitutional Law

The Separation of Powers

Government Ethics

Independent Counsel & Special Prosecutors

The Supreme Court

Women and Politics



Katy Harriger Publication Katy Harriger Publication Katy Harriger Publication



Wake Forest political science professor Katy Harriger poses in her office in Tribble Hall loading image


Robert Mueller named special counsel



Education (3)

University of Connecticut: Ph.D., Political Science and Government 1986

University of Connecticut: M.A., Political Science and Government

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania: B.A., Political Science

Media Appearances (5)

Robert Mueller's Russia Investigation Is Moving Really Fast. Here's Why



"His reputation is as someone who doesn’t mess around," says Katy Harriger, a professor at Wake Forest College and author of a book on federal special prosecutors. "But I think if you look at the overarching questions of this investigation, they’re pretty serious in terms of the alleged wrongdoing, and I think someone of Mueller’s stature and commitment to public service that he’s demonstrated would want to know the truth about this fairly quickly."

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With a picked lock and a threatened indictment, Mueller’s inquiry sets a tone

The New York Times  


The longer Mr. Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more vulnerable he will be to allegations that he is on a fishing expedition, said Katy Harriger, a professor of politics at Wake Forest University and the author of a book on special prosecutors. Such accusations dogged the investigation of Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation of Mr. Clinton stretched on for years.

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Sanders’s message stands to resonate long after election

The New York Times / Bloomberg News  


Katy Harriger, a political scientist at Wake Forest University who has studied the youth vote, thinks that Mr. Sanders has the capacity to keep them mobilized on issues like campaign financing and economic inequality. That engagement could carry to the off-year elections, when the participation of young voters traditionally drops off. “He has tapped into something very real and has credibility with a lot of these young voters,” Ms. Harriger said.

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Generation gap? Not for Bernie Sanders

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  


Recent polls show that Mr. Sanders is capturing the hearts, the minds and — most importantly, the votes — of young adults like her in New Hampshire and across the country. “Young voters are disillusioned with the political process, and Sanders is perceived as an outsider,” said Wake Forest University political scientist Katy Harriger. …“For older voters, the word socialism has a lot of connotations that are negative, but younger voters don’t get that. The term doesn’t hold the same ideological weight.”

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Want politically active adults? Start them young

Greensboro News & Record  


Senior T.J. Smith and political science professor Katy Harriger were interviewed about young voters. Harriger commented on her latest research that shows that learning to talk about controversial issues while in college can inspire young adults to be more engaged citizens even 10 years later.

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Articles (5)

College students and deliberation: A benchmark study Communication Education

Deliberative democracy is often seen as a potential antidote to political alienation in the United States. This paper focuses attention on the potential of deliberation for citizenship training in the academy. We review literature on political alienation among college ...

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Can the Independent Counsel Statute Be Saved? Law and Contemporary Problems

For the second time in its twenty-year history, the independent counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act face an uncertain future. We are closer than we have ever been to a bipartisan consensus that the statute should be allowed to expire in June 1999. The ...

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The History of the Independent Counsel Provisions: How the Past Informs the Current Debate Mercer Law Review

The current "feeding frenzy" around the campaign finance scandal invites us to reflect upon the importance of the past. The independent counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act are the product of a particular time and sequence of events that determined their shape and continue to influence their implementation...

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Damned If She Does and Damned If She Doesn't: The Attorney General and the Independent Counsel Statute Georgetown Law Journal

Attorney General Janet Reno's controversial decision not to seek appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the campaign finance scandal high-lights the enduring tension between politics and the law, and particularly, the impact of that tension on the ...

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Separation of Powers and the Politics of Independent Counsels Political Science Quarterly

As a part of its post-Watergate reform efforts, Congress created an independent counsel arrangement in the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. After Richard Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the October 1973 Saturday Night Massacre, ...

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