Menu Close
Professor and Chair of Political Science, University of Florida

Dr. Daniel A. Smith is University of Florida Research Foundation (2010-2012) Professor and Chair of Political Science at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1994, and his B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) in History from Penn State University in 1988.

Professor Smith’s research is motivated by understanding how political institutions affect political behavior across and within the American states. He has published more than 80 scholarly articles and book chapters on politics in the United States in many of the discipline’s leading outlets, including The American Political Science Review.

A past-president of the State Politics and Policy Section of the American Political Science Association, Professor Smith’s scholarly research has examined the effects of ballot measures, campaign financing, redistricting, and electoral laws on voting and political participation in the American states. He has written extensively on the history of the adoption of direct democracy in the American states, the campaign financing of ballot measure campaigns, and the impact of ballot measures on candidate elections. More recently, he has published with Dr. Michael C. Herron (Dartmouth College) a series of articles examining how changes to election laws in the American states alter political participation, and with William D. Hicks (Appalachian State) and Seth C. McKee (Texas Tech), several articles on the factors leading to the adoption of various voting reforms across the American states.

His book with Caroline J. Tolbert, "Educated by Initiative: The Effects of Direct Democracy on Citizens and Political Organizations in the American States" (University of Michigan Press, 2004), examines the “educative effects” of the institution of direct democracy on voter turnout, citizen engagement, and political efficacy, as well as the indirect impact citizen lawmaking has on interest groups and political parties. Smith’s first book, "Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy" (Routledge, 1998), investigated the financial backing and the populist-sounding rhetoric of three anti-tax ballot initiatives: Proposition 13 in California (1978), Proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts (1980), and Amendment 1 in Colorado (1992). He is also the coauthor, with Todd Donovan, Tracy Osborne, and Christopher Mooney of a widely-used textbook, "State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform" (Cengage/Wadsworth, 2015), now in its 4th edition.

Professor Smith serves on the Board of Directors of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Foundation (BISCF), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, serves on the Board of Directors of Common Cause Florida, and is a member of the Board of Scholars of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Smith also has extensive international experience. In addition to giving invited talks in China, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, and numerous African countries, he served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana in 2000-01 and a Research Associate at the Center for Democratic Development – Ghana in 2011. He has written widely on contemporary Ghanaian politics and democratic consolidation, focusing on issues of electoral irregularities and legislative apportionment and redistricting, and has served as a consultant for the National Democratic Institute (NDI). He was a co-PI of a major US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs grant bringing Francophone West Africans and American elected officials and voting rights experts together to better understand voting and the electoral process in Trans-Sahara Africa and the US.

A seasoned observer of ballot initiative and candidate campaigns around the country, as well as voting rights and redistricting in Florida and other states, Professor Smith’s commentary has appeared in or has been heard on numerous news media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, BBC, National Public Radio, Voice of America, MSNBC, and ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC News.

Professor Smith has provided invited testimony to Congress, the state legislatures of Colorado and Florida, and was asked to submit testimony before the British House of Lords. He has advised numerous groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce and several US embassies and civic organizations in Africa, on voting and electoral practices in the American states. He has served as an expert witness in numerous legal cases dealing with voting rights, ballot measures, campaign finance laws, and redistricting, and was lead author of the “Direct Democracy Scholars” amicus brief in Doe v. Reed, which was successfully argued by the Attorney General of the state of Washington before the US Supreme Court in 2010. Most recently, he served as the expert for Demos and the ACLU in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, argued before the US Supreme Court in January, 2018.


  • –present
    Professor of Political Science, University of Florida