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University Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law Professor Joshua A. Douglas, a voting rights and constitutional law expert  interviewed extensively by local and national media outlets before and after the 2020 general election, joined the UK Rosenberg Law Election Law Society via Zoom on Wednesday, Nov. 11 for a Post-Election Debrief.
Chase Thomas, a third-year law student and president of the Election Law Society, moderated the Q&A with Douglas, the Ashland, Inc-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law. Thomas opened the virtual chat, attended by students, faculty, and staff, with a question about denial of election results in the presidential race.

“There is no legal requirement that a candidate concede,” Douglas answered. He said the practice falls within democracy norms, but it is irrelevant from a legal perspective.

Students asked Douglas about voting procedures and the broad use of mail-in voting across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Douglas said he hopes some of the reforms will stick around for future elections.

“I sure hope that many of them will become permanent because we see that they work really well in many states,” Douglas said. He said expansion of mail voting was already occurring in many states— including Oregon, Washington state, Utah, and Arizona—before the pandemic. Douglas said this expansion has happened in both red and blue states.

“So, vote-by-mail is not a new concept and expanded and increased vote-by-mail is not a new concept, and many states have been doing it successfully. And, I think, this election also demonstrates that expanding access to the ballot doesn’t change election results,” Douglas said.

He added that there should not be a political reason for adopting these practices because Republicans did well in states where voting was made easier than ever before, likewise Democrats were successful in other areas. However, claims of massive voter fraud have made the reforms political and could make it difficult to get some voting reform legislation passed, Douglas said.

“I try really hard to be nonpartisan in my election advocacy and my election commentary but there are not two sides here,” Douglas said. “There is a subset of the Republican party that is engaged in anti-Democracy rhetoric and you don’t see that on the other side.”

Douglas said some of the accusations are concerning and could damage people’s faith in the legitimacy of election outcomes. “I don’t know what you do about that besides continuing to explain the facts,” he said.
Douglas is the author of Vote for Us: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting. Leading up to and following the 2020 general election, Douglas wrote opinion pieces for various news outlets, including CNN, The Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC News, Lexington Herald-Leader, and The Courier-Journal. Douglas was interviewed and quoted by NPR, The Washington Post and others.