U of L Provost hosts panel to discuss presidential succession Wednesday, Jan 20 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm hosted a forum on Jan. 12 that was focused on the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and what to expect going forward.

The conversation was held virtually and moderated by Brandeis School of Law Dean Colin Crawford. The panelists included Vice President for University Advancement Jasmine Farrier, visiting professor at the Brandeis School of Law Eugene Mazo, and political science chair and professor Jason Gainous.

The forum began with a chance for each of the panelists to give an opening statement. Farrier started her statement with a glimpse into her scholarly perspective on political theory. “When I was in college, as an undergraduate, I found political theory to be fascinating because political theory asks everyone to think about what humans are made of,” Farrier said.

“When humans form community, we get the good and the bad. We get power, we get strength, we also get victimized,” she said. “We also have to realize that society can only survive if you treat the losers with dignity and with fairness.”

She continued her statement by discussing the constitution and what it means to apply this very old document to modern life. She also discussed her particular area of interest, separation of power and how that topic related to the current political moment in terms of the limitations on a president and the limitations on Congress.

Mazo began by discussing his background and how it led to his interest in democracy.

“I am a scholar of the law of democracy. This comes out of my personal heritage. My parents were refugees who moved here from an authoritarian country and so I have never taken our democracy for granted and I’ve spent my professional career studying it,” Mazo said. “I’m interested in what it means to have a democracy. I’m interested in how democracies are created, how they function, and how democratic disputes are resolved, in this country at least, by the courts, and what tools the courts use to resolve those disputes.”

He went on to discuss the factors that made the 2020 presidential elections different from any other. Mazo said that the pandemic had a tremendous impact on the way elections were conducted this year and brought up numerous challenges related to the voting system that states had to resolve.

He also pointed out that this presidential election was unlike any other in the recent history of the United States because one of the candidates refused to concede the election and now a large amount of Americans feel like the election was stolen. Mazo concluded his introductory statement by posing the question: “What should we do as a society to move forward and to begin to heal after the events of last week, or should we say, after the events of last year?”

The last panelist to give an opening statement was Gainous, who began his statement by discussing how his area of interest fits into the focus of the forum.

“What is fascinating in studying information effects across time is that we started off as scholars of information technology believing that the internet was going to be a democratizing force,” Gainous said. “It was going to open up avenues for communication between citizens and legislators, it was going to break the chains of censorship in autocratic contexts. We thought all of this to be true, and what we found, across time is that we were wrong.”

Gainous continued to say that the current environment of the internet makes it possible for people to keep themselves in their own little bubbles and leads them to surrounding themselves with information that reinforces whatever they want to believe. He then went on to make the case that storming the capitol would have made sense if the people involved were correct in their beliefs.

“I believe that the storming of the capitol, in many ways, is a completely rational behavior. It seems completely crazy and irrational to us, but when I say rational, if indeed the things that these people believe have happened, then that seems like the American thing to do. We’ve done that across the course of our history. The problem is that the things that they believe are not true,” Gainous said.

The panelists then moved on to the questions and answers section of the discussion where they discussed numerous legal options available to Congress and the president in the remaining days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The moderator began this discussion by asking Farrier about the possibility of the president issuing a self-pardon. Farrier responded that it wasn’t clear if the pardon could be used this way, and even if it can, this would only clear the president of federal crimes he may have committed and not prevent him from being charged in any particular state.

Mazo was then asked if he believed the lawsuits the president’s administration brought up related to the election were frivolous and what purpose they serve, if any. He replied by saying that he believed many of the lawsuits to be frivolous, but some of them were founded on reasonable legal theory, they just weren’t filed in the correct way.

Farrier was then asked if the fact that Trump appointed judges refused to hear his case was surprising. She replied that it wasn’t surprising because judges tend to be careful about keeping their legitimacy instead of leaning in an overtly partisan way.

Gainous also went on to argue that if the point of filing the lawsuits was to get people to believe the election was fraudulent, then they were successful. He said that just the filing of the lawsuits, even though nothing came of them, was enough to convince many Trump supporters that the election was fraudulent.

The panel went onto discuss impeachment, censure, expulsion, and eliminating eligibility from office. The day after this panel took place, Trump became the first president to be impeached twice.

The full forum can be found on the U of L Alumni Facebook page.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Opponents Of JCPS Tax Increase Say Entire 9% Tax Hike Invalid Friday, Oct 9 2020 

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Opponents of a 9% property tax increase passed by the Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE) say the entire increase is invalid.

Opponents who were already fighting a portion of the tax increase through a petition for a recall vote now claim the whole increase is illegal based on a technicality. Attorneys for the petitioners say the board violated a state statute they argue requires school boards to wait until the county tax roll has been certified, which happened on Aug. 25. The board passed the increase months earlier, on May 21.

JCBE’s failure to comply with these statutory requirements renders its attempted levy unlawful and a nullity. As such, JCBE has not levied a tax rate; there is no tax rate subject to recall, the complaint reads.


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State Expects Fewer Absentee Ballots Requested In General Election Than In June Primary Thursday, Oct 8 2020 

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One day before the Oct. 9 deadline, the state says 17.5% of Kentucky registered voters have requested their absentee ballot for the November election, far fewer than the 27% who requested absentee ballots for the June primary.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams said thats a good thing.

Thats right in the sweet spot, Adams said during Gov. Andy Beshears afternoon briefing. Thats enough that we see that its working, that the word is getting out, that voters who have concerns are able to utilize this effectively, but its also not something that will overwhelm the system.


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5 Questions Ahead Of The Pence-Harris Vice Presidential Debate Wednesday, Oct 7 2020 

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Vice President Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris square off in the first and only vice presidential debate Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in Salt Lake City.

Pence has laid low with Trump undergoing treatment for the coronavirus, a threat the president had downplayed for months. But Pence is going to need to show up in a big way to try to inject some needed positive energy into the Trump-Pence presidential campaign, which has been consistently lagging Biden-Harris in the polls.

Progressives, frustrated with Joe Bidens sometimes uneven public speaking appearances, have been waiting for this moment. They think Harris, who is more than 20 years younger than Biden, can deliver a better rhetorical punch.


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A Pandemic Voter’s Guide For Kentucky Friday, Oct 2 2020 

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced elections officials to expand options for voters in November’s general election. This means you will have more ways to vote, including mail-in ballots and early in-person voting. But it also means many people have questions about how to vote. Here are answers to some common questions about voter registration, voting by mail, and early voting in person.

The seal of the Kentucky Commonwealth.

How do I know if I’m registered?


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What To Make Of Some Young Evangelicals Abandoning Trump Over Climate Change? Wednesday, Sep 30 2020 

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Emily Robertson is a senior at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Shes also an evangelical Christian, which makes her part of a key voting bloc for President Donald Trump.

But Trump wont get a vote from Robertson, who describes faith as the most important thing in her life, and who is a fellow with the growing Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. She does not like the presidents climate change agenda, or rather, the lack of one.


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Students: What you need to know about voting in the 2020 election Wednesday, Sep 30 2020 

By Katie Volpentesta —

The 2020 Presidential election is just six weeks away, so it’s important to be educated on voting options as well as candidates and policies down the ballot.

While the COVID-19 pandemic complicates in-person voting options, the Jefferson County Board of Elections is doing everything they can to keep Jefferson County residents informed of their options, including registering to vote, requesting and sending in a mail-in ballot, and voting in person both early or on Election Day.

“In a normal election we have about 232 locations within 623 precincts, and now with coronavirus, a lot of things have changed,” said Jordan Kelch, public relations administrator at the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office. Typically, early or mail-in voting is only allowed if a voter meets one of ten special criteria that prevent you from being able to vote on Election Day.

Instead of smaller polling locations throughout the county, the board has created four election super centers that will allow for social distanced voting in large, open areas. Early voting will take place at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the YUM! Center, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, and a fourth location in the east end that is yet to be announced.

Early in-person voting is from Oct. 13 to Nov. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and voting on Election Day, Nov. 3, will be at the same locations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In order to vote either in person or via mail-in absentee ballot, residents of Jefferson County must be registered to vote. Luckily, this process is available and easily accessible online. The last day to register to vote in Kentucky is Oct. 5 at 4 p.m.

Additionally, the deadline to order a mail-in ballot in Kentucky is Oct. 9 by 11:59 p.m. These resources, as well as information on polling places, candidates and issues on your ballot, are available on the Jefferson County Clerk’s elections site.

“There’s 1,200 ballot styles for this election. Jefferson County is really large, so there’s lots of different areas with small city races,” Kelch said. “It all comes down to your legislative district and the neighborhood you live in.” The Jefferson County Clerk’s site can show you your exact ballot.

U of L’s Vote Everywhere initiative looks to keep students informed about voting options, deadlines and ways to stay informed as well. They want to ensure that students know the power of their vote and what it means to be informed.

“There’s so many deadlines and it gets really confusing, even for a student like me who is super civically engaged,” said Vote Everywhere Ambassador Wyn Garfinkle-Plymesser.

By hosting events on campus and frequently updating their Instagram page, @UofLVE, Garfinkle-Plymesser and her co-ambassador Arianna Moya engage with students and promote civic engagement within the U of L community.

“We just want to be a space where people can come and get the answers straight up and know what’s really going on,” said Garfinkle-Plymesser. “If they have any concerns about voting or their vote being suppressed, we wanna be the space that students can come to and have their concerns heard and questions answered.”

While Jefferson County is doing their best to make this election as accessible and safe as possible, Kelch recommends that residents vote early if possible and don’t procrastinate sending in a mail-in ballot.

“If you’re done and you’ve signed it completely, both the goldenrod envelope and exterior envelope, and you’ve followed all the directions and are ready to turn it in, please do so immediately,” Kelch said. “Election Day will obviously be very busy.”

For further information regarding the upcoming general election in Jefferson County, please go to elections.jeffersoncountyclerk.org.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Live Updates: 1st Presidential Debate Between Trump And Biden Tuesday, Sep 29 2020 

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Follow NPRs live coverage of the first 2020 presidential election debate, including fact-checking and analysis. President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are in Cleveland for the event, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

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Counties Implement A Patchwork Of Voting Plans Across Kentucky Monday, Sep 28 2020 

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Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins says he’s confident his office will be able to handle the election.

But it’s a juggling act.

“I mean if you think about it, we’re running kind of three different kinds of elections simultaneously,” Blevins said. You’ve got a normal election day, you’ve got early voting in person and now vote by mail again.


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Ohio Valley Election Officials Prepare For Unprecedented Pandemic Election Sunday, Sep 27 2020 

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Governors, Secretaries of State, and other state and local election officials throughout the Ohio Valley are preparing for an unprecedented election during a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced local governments to change practices that have been the same for decades, and to do so in a highly charged political environment. 

Some of the main changes are safety precautions suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State officials in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia are ensuring residents feel comfortable voting in person if they choose to, while making adjustments for those who are concerned about contracting COVID-19. 

Rules have changed to keep voters safe.


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