NASS Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award

Established in 1992, the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award is named after the former U.S. Senator from Maine, who jeopardized her career by speaking out against the red-baiting tactics of Senator Joseph P. McCarthy in the 1950s. 

Award recipients are recognized for individual acts of political courage, uncommon character and selfless action in the realm of public service.

Photo: Hon. Tahesha Way, NJ Lt. Governor, Ms. Yvonne Hill (Wooten's daughter) and Hon. Scott Schwab, NASS Pres. & KS Secretary of State, photographed with the NASS Margaret Chase Smith Award during the Feb. 8, 2024 ceremony. Photo credit: Philip Smith, 1LPhoto

Margaret Chase Smith Award Recipients:

2023 - Ms. Laura Wooten, longest-serving poll worker in American history
2022 - Mr. Miguel Trujillo, Native American voting rights activist
2021 - Former U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia
2020 - Mr. Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and social rights activist
2019 - Ms. Viola Gregg Liuzzo, civil rights activist
2018 - Hon. Dan Evans, Former Governor of Washington & Hon. Ralph Munro, Former Secretary of State of Washington
2017 - The Little Rock Nine
2016 - Richard Fulton, former Member of Congress and Nashville mayor
2015 - Fred Gray, civil rights activist/attorney
2014 - Paul Caranci, former Rhode Island Official 
2013 - No Award
2012 - John Walsh, victims' rights advocate
2011 - Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State
2010 - No Award
2009 - Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court Justice 
2008 - Ruby Duncan, civil rights activist/founder of Operation Life Community Development Corp 
2007 - Hon. John J. Sirica, chief judge presiding over the Watergate Scandal 
2006 - No Award 
2005 - Morris Dees and Joseph Levin, Jr., co-founders of the Southern Poverty Law Center 
2004 - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, leadership response to 9/11 terror attacks 
2003 - Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, ADA legislation 
2002 - Former President Jimmy Carter, world peace & democracy advocate 
2001 - Robert Parrish Moses, founder of the Algebra Project 
2000 - Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, opposed apartheid in South Africa 
1999 - Doris "Granny D" Haddock, campaign finance reform advocate 
1998 - George J. Mitchell, peace agreement in Northern Ireland 
1997 - Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the U.S. Special Olympics 
1996 - Daisy Bates, civil rights advocate 
1995 - Jim and Sarah Brady, gun safety advocates 
1994 - Elizabeth Dole, President of the American Red Cross 
1993 - Rosa Parks, civil rights heroine/advocate 
1992 - Former U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith  

Nomination & Selection Information

Each year, NASS member offices receive a nominating packet that includes instructions and deadline information for submitting a nomination. The recipient is selected by a vote of the full membership. At least three nominations must be received in order to move forward with the balloting process. 

The designated recipient is announced at the NASS summer meeting. Presentation of the award takes place at the following NASS winter conference in Washington, DC.