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Tokaji testifies before Senate judiciary on new voting law

May 7, 2012 | Faculty

Professor Daniel P. Tokaji, the Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor and  Senior Fellow at the nonpartisan Election Law @ Moritz project, is testifying on May 7 before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. Tokaji’s testimony will focus on new state voting laws.

“For the most part, the recent round of state election laws have the effect and apparent intent of making it more difficult for eligible citizens to vote,” Tokaji wrote in his testimony.

Ohio’s recent law, which decreases early voting, eliminates a requirement that poll workers direct voters to the correct precinct if they show up to vote at the wrong one, changes the rules for determining an election official error, and eliminates the period for voters to document their eligibility, is a prime example of a law that would discourage voting, Tokaji said.

“If it is allowed to take effect, this statute will sow confusion for voters and poll workers alike, many of whom have just gotten used to current rules,” Tokaji wrote. “It can be expected to increase the number of provisional ballots cast, including by voters who go to the correct polling location. Ultimately, it will increase the likelihood of voters being denied their fundamental right to vote – and therefore of lawsuits that could potentially throw future elections into doubt. Worse still are the efforts by the leaders of the Ohio legislature to undermine a federal consent order requiring the fair and equal treatment of voters. For all the complexity of our voting laws, the bottom line is simple: We should be making it easier, not more difficult, for eligible citizens to vote.”

The hearing will be held at the Carl B. Stokes United States Court House in Clevelend at 9:30 a.m.

To read Tokaji’s full testimony, please click here.