Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Wednesday, November 5
 
What We Don't Know
We now know that Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States of America. In the enormity of this moment in American history, the gritty details of election administration, upon which my Moritz colleagues and I spend so much of our time, seem positively trivial. But when the morning comes and vote tallies are in from across the country, there will be evaluate how well the infrastructure of our democracy held up to the unprecedented demands placed upon it this election season.

There are, at this moment, reasons to believe that we have made progress in the last eight years. At the same time, there is clearly much work to be done. Foremost among the challenges that remain is improving our system of voter registration. We still do not know how many voters went to the polls today to find their names not on voter registration lists. Nor do we know how many provisional ballots were cast as the result of such problems. And we do not know how many of those provisional and absentee ballots will ultimately not be counted, due to faulty registration rolls or other errors.

As insignificant as such questions may seem at this moment, they are important. That is not only because the outcome of many congressional, state, and local races may hinge on them. It is also because the faith that people in this country and around the world have in our democracy depends upon our allowing all eligible citizens to vote and accurately counting their votes.

When the dust clears, there will be both the time and opportunity to study such questions. It is important that we do so, drawing on our own experience in the United States, as well as that of other democracies, from which we probably have more to learn than some of us have heretofore realized. But for now, I'm just thankful that this presidential election -- unlike the last two -- was actually decided on election night. So I'm going to get some sleep.

Thanks for listening.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University