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March 30, 2016

The light of election law shined on Kentucky last Friday, March 25, as the Kentucky Law Journal (KLJ) and the University of Kentucky College of Law co-hosted an all-day symposium that brought powerhouse speakers from across the nation to the College of Law Courtroom. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes kicked off the event titled, An Elective Perspective: Judicial Regulation of Politics in an Election Year, with the delivery of the keynote address.

“It is my privilege to join you here this morning and to welcome each of you to a symposium that I know will be an enlightening experience and one that I hope will instill a fire and a passion, especially amongst many of the students,” said the 76th Secretary of State to a filled Courtroom. “My hope is that we are going to shape some young minds here today.” 

The youngest female Secretary of State in the nation passionately highlighted the significance of every citizen having the opportunity for their voices to be heard through improvements in voting procedures.  

“We can do more and we can do better than where we are now,” said Secretary Grimes. “They (elections) should be inclusive and they should be convenient for every voter.”

The symposium’s "practitioner's panel" consisted of four of the top election law practitioners in the state, all UK Law alumni, and 12 nationally renowned legal scholars in the field of election law from around the country. The scholars presented their research on issues including the right to vote, redistricting, the Voting Rights Act, and campaign finance.

In addition to Secretary Grimes, notable speakers included:

  • Atiba R. Ellis (West Virginia University College of Law)
  • Luis Fuentes-Rohwer (Indiana University Maurer School of Law)
  • Michael Gilbert (University of Virginia School of Law)
  • Trey Grayson (CEO Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Former Kentucky Secretary of State)
  • Rebecca Green (William & Mary Law School)
  • Steven Huefner (Ohio State University Moritz College of Law)
  • Eric Lycan (Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP)
  • Jennifer Moore (Grossman & Moore, PLLC)
  • Michael T. Morley (Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law)
  • Mike Pitts (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law)
  • Lori A. Ringhand (University of Georgia School of Law)
  • Michael Solimine (University of Cincinnati College of Law)
  • Nicholas Stephanopoulos (University of Chicago Law School)
  • Dan Tokaji (Ohio State University Moritz College of Law)
  • Franita Tolson (Florida State University College of Law)
  • Scott White (Fogle Keller & Purdy, PLLC)

With 2016 being an election year, it was the perfect time to convey a message that election law is both interesting and important, and to demonstrate the real world impact of election law scholarship.

“Election law affects every single person and this pivotal election will shape our future and country for years to come,” said KLJ Editor Mark Roth, who co-organized the event.

A luncheon immediately followed the morning panels, featuring both Gregory Pettit and George Mills. They held a discussion on The Spider Election, a book that recounts the disputed Lexington mayoral election of 1973. Foster Pettit, father of Gregory Pettit, wrote the book and was the first mayor of the combined Lexington-Fayette County government. UK Law graduate George Mills was Foster Pettit's campaign manager.

Joshua Douglas, election law expert and Robert G. Lawson & William H. Fortune Associate Professor of Law at UK College of Law, considered the symposium an outstanding success. 

“We had almost 100 people in attendance for an all-day discussion about election law, one of the most dynamic and significant areas of the law,” said Professor Douglas. “We had some of the top names both in Kentucky and from across the nation here, and it was really exciting.”

This program was accredited by the Kentucky Bar Association Commission on Legal Education for a total of 5.0 Hours of CLE Credit.

The KLJ is the tenth oldest law review published by the nation’s law schools. The Journal is edited entirely by a student editorial board, with guidance from a faculty advisor.