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Thinking about Elections

Blocking Election Experts for Political Gain
By Juliet Zavon
Posted: 2021-11-18T11:56:00Z

BLOCKING ELECTIONS EXPERTS FOR POLITICAL GAIN. Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, is the driving force behind the Elections Project. The Elections Project provides a wealth of information that’s not easily found, including detailed election statistics about turnout, precinct data, etc. Expertise in analyzing turnout and precinct data is especially relevant in evaluating the impact of new (restrictive) voting laws.


Michael McDonald is a nationally recognized expert on elections, including redistricting. Experts like Prof. McDonald are sought after to lecture and give testimony before policy-making bodies, think tanks, and in court. Court testimony is where the plot thickens: what if you could prevent the testimony of experts like Michael McDonald in lawsuits challenging new restrictive voting laws?


This spring the Florida legislature passed new voting restrictions that Governor DeSantis signed into law. Groups challenging these new laws hired three University of Florida professors, among them Michael McDonald, as expert witnesses. The University then barred them from participating in the lawsuit.


This was a complete reversal of University of Florida policy. The University, like schools nationwide, always allowed professors to give expert testimony in lawsuits, even when that testimony opposed powerful political interests.


The University of Florida’s move met a storm of objections. The University responded with statements that read like double-talk, and Governor DeSantis refused to respond to questions. Then on November 5 the University withdrew the new restriction it had placed on the professors. The ploy had backfired, but the story didn’t end there. The professors have sued the University for violation of their First Amendment rights.


Take a look at the link to see examples of information put together by an expert whose expertise was to be muzzled.