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Legal, political and policy experts discussed the record-breaking amount of voter participation, the minority vote, and potential outcomes among other topics during the University of Houston Law Center’s virtual event, “What Happens Next: A Discussion of the November 3, 2020 Presidential Election” held in November.
Associate Professor Emily Berman, the opening speaker, said the election itself went smoothly and showed a robust democratic sentiment in the country.
“This was an incredibly successful election with record turnout,” Berman said. “Many people were worried about widespread violence around the country at the polls, which didn’t happen. There were concerns about foreign and domestic interference in the election in the form of cyberhacking, and that did not materialize.
“There have been no credible allegations of systemic problems. Both Republican and Democratic state officials have said that they have seen no irregularities. The suits that have been filed in the aftermath of the election have been thrown out.”
Berman said there are however causes for concern given allegations of voter irregularities and the pursuit of legal action by the Trump administration.
“What the president did was calling the legitimacy of the election
into question,” Berman said. “That has long-term implications for
our democracy. There are also concerns about how the refusal to acknowledge the outcome is undermining the ability for President- Elect Biden and his team to have a smooth and effective transition. There are a lot of challenges facing this country. The delay and calling into question the legitimacy of the label president-elect is really undermining the effectiveness of the transition, and is likely to put the next administration in a hole to begin with.”
The second speaker, George A. Butler Research Professor Daniel Morales, discussed the dynamics of the Latino vote, including particular areas that sparked national interest in Texas and Florida.
“The Rio Grande Valley is a big story of lack of attention,” Morales said. “The Biden campaign wanted to emphasize social distancing, so they weren’t knocking on doors in an epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic. The other piece is that the surge in funding for border protection by the Trump administration has led to an increase in Latino jobs that are tied to the Department of Homeland Security. A long-term trend with border enforcement is these are wealth creation vehicles.”
Morales also pointed to how the Trump campaign made a direct appeal to Cuban and Venezuelan populations in the Miami area.
“Cubans have always had an overwhelming fear of Communism
in the United States,” Morales said. “Trump messaged Cubans and Venezuelans directly with ads that resonated with the population that
occupies Miami-Dade County.”
The third and final speaker was Dr. Jim Granato, Associate Dean and Professor in the Hobby School of Public Affairs. Granato discussed how the incoming administration is likely to restore Obama era policies through executive orders in areas of climate change, taxation, immigration and potentially criminal justice reform.
Granato also pointed to past presidents and presidential candidates that have followed a similar career path to President-Elect Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden is in the last 60 years only the third person to serve in the Senate, serve as vice president and become elected president,” Granato said. “The last two candidates to attempt that were Al Gore and Walter Mondale. LBJ and Harry Truman are the last two that follow this trajectory.”
The discussion was co-sponsored by the Houston Bar Association.
The University of Houston Law Center signed onto a Pledge on Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession in November, an initiative brought forth by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights.
“As we think about diversity, equity and inclusion, we need to be broad in our scope to ensure all members of our society are able to live up to their full potential and have wide range of opportunities,” said Dean Leonard M. Baynes. “I am heartened that the Law Center signed this pledge and commitment to disability diversity.”
The pledge reads:
“As Legal Employers, Chief Legal Officers, Law Schools, State
and Local Bar Associations, Judges, Court Administrators Hiring Partners, and Hiring Personnel in the Legal Profession, we hereby affirm our commitment to diversity in the legal profession, including diversity with respect to individuals with mental, physical, and sensory disabilities. Our pledge is based on the need to enhance opportunity in the legal profession and our recognition that the
legal and business interests of our clients and the populations we serve require legal representation that reflects the diversity of our employees, customers and the communities where we operate. In furtherance of this commitment, this is intended to be a Pledge
for Change for the profession generally and in particular for our
law departments, firms, agencies, law schools, state and local bar associations, courthouses, and organizations. We further pledge
that we will encourage other law departments, firms, agencies,
law schools, state and local bar associations, court systems, and/or organizations that we do business with to make a similar diversity commitment.”

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