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O'Hara lecture presents lessons from 2012 election

By Rachel Sarachman
On November 30, 2012

An old tradition continued before a full house Thursday afternoon in Harrison Hall room 111 as Daniel P. Tokaji came to campus as this year's speaker in the O'Hara Lecture series.

Patrick Haney, interim chair and professor of the political science department said he looked forward to going to the lecture.

"This lecture is an especially opportune moment to hear about the recent election," Haney said.

According to Haney, in 1994 the O'Hara lecture was started by Lloyd and Mary O'Hara, two Miami alumni, in an effort to bridge the gap between politics and law. Past lecturers for this event have ranged from professors from other universities, practicing attorneys, and even professionals who have worked on presidential campaign teams, Haney said.

John Forren, professor in the Political Science department was the main coordinator of the event this year.

Forren said Tokaji's work is widely respected.

"He is one of the top voices on voting rights with his academic work as well as his work within the courts concerning the changes to the election laws," Forren said.

Tokaji spoke on the historical background of voting, the current landscape of politics and voting following the recent election and lessons to take away from the election during his lecture, but also urged those in attendance to take action.

"My goal here not just to lecture to you on the problems that we have, but to embolden you to take action, because our democracy depends on having advocates and activists for the right to vote, and I very much hope that will be you," Tokaji said.

Some students on campus said they were especially excited to see what the lecture has in store.

Junior Emily Slagle said she was optimistic about the potential learning opportunities in the lecture.

"I believe that people should be more aware when they make their vote because they do count and I think this lecture will hopefully inspire more students to be an informed voter and pay attention to changes in voting laws," Slagle said.

Sophomore Skyler Kragt was looking forward to discussing the election now that the political dust has settled.

"There is so much hype leading up to elections I'm glad there is going to be an opportunity to discuss the events in retrospect, especially with someone who is very knowledgeable of election laws like Dr. Tokaji," Kragt said.

Tokaji reminded students and faculty in attendance how important voting is.

"Whatever it is we care about, whether it's education jobs taxes guns, whatever our issue is, in order for us to change things as they are, to move closer to our ideal, we need to have the right to vote," Tokaji said. "Change depends upon our being able to exercise that most fundamental right."

Jenn Smola contributed to this report.

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