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Leading expert on election law and voting rights to deliver O'Hara Lecture

11/26/2012

Daniel Tokaji
Daniel Tokaji, one of the foremost experts in the nation on election law and voting rights, will deliver the annual O'Hara Lecture on Law and Politics at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, in 111 Harrison Hall at Miami University.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the department of political science and the pre-law program in the College of Arts and Science.

On the heels of the presidential election, Tokaji will examine the development of some of the leading voting rights issues that face the nation in his lecture, “The Right to Vote: Lessons from the 2012 Election.”

Tokaji says courts played a critical role in the November election and attempts at vote suppression backfired, mobilizing voters.

“There’s been no year in which this critical role has been more evident,” says Tokaji. “In a number of states, legislatures and election officials got too greedy in their efforts to make it more difficult to vote and have their votes counted. And the courts pushed back, sometimes relying on the U.S. Constitution, sometimes the Voting Rights Act, sometimes state constitutions.”

Tokaji says even some Republican-appointed judges found that states had gone too far and, in this election cycle, they played an essential role in curbing the worst excesses. He suggests that aggressive attempts to make voting difficult might account for the strong African American and Latino turnout at the polls.

“In Ohio in particular, there was enormous indignation in the black community about the legislature’s and Secretary of State’s efforts to make it more difficult to exercise the right to vote,” says Tokaji. “This should make legislators and chief election officials around the country think twice before passing laws or adopting rules making it more difficult to vote and have their votes counted. This is particularly worrisome for the GOP with respect to Latino voters, who – moving beyond the details of election administration to the big picture of American electoral politics – are THE big story of Election 2012.”

Tokaji is the Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor of Law and Senior Fellow in Election Law at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.

A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale Law School, Tokaji has published widely on election law and its broader implications for questions of equality, racial justice and the role of the federal courts in American democracy.

National media outlets such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Columbus Dispatch, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and USA Today have sought his expertise in election law. He has appeared on the Today Show, Fox News, NBC News and National Public Radio.

Before assuming his current position at Ohio State, Tokaji was a staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and Chair of California Common Cause. He has litigated numerous civil rights and election law cases and was lead counsel in the case that struck down an Ohio law requiring naturalized citizens to produce a certificate of naturalization when challenged at the polls.

The O’Hara Lecture was established with a gift from Lloyd and Mary O’Hara to support lectures on law and politics, covering issues related to civil, criminal or constitutional law, or topics comparing the American legal system to other models.

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