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Imagine the Possibilities
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Grant Award and Job for Gayle Alberda
Posted Tue, 12/16/2014
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Gayle Alberda, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, has received a Horowitz Foundation Grant Award for Social Policy Research.  The award funds the research on Ms. Alberda’s dissertation.   Gayle’s dissertation analyzes the effect of early voting laws on turnout in local elections. In the United States, local governments are considered the bedrocks of American democracy, yet turnout is abysmal in local elections. Early voting provides citizens with increased flexibility and convenience and may work to increase turnout. However, it has also been extremely controversial in recent years, and the focus of much policy debate and research.

Up to this point, the vast majority of research has been on national elections, where citizens receive significant exposure to political news, advertising, and other information. It is not yet clear, however, if early voting works to get citizens engaged at the local level, where information and engagement are low. Does early voting encourage voters to participate? That is the key question that Ms. Alberda addresses. To do her work, Ms. Alberda uses a large dataset – voter lists in Ohio over the past decade or so – to answer this important question. She will compare turnout rates in cities with early voting to those without it; there is also a temporal dimension in that Ohio adopted early voting during the period she studies. It is crucial that we understand the factors that may increase turnout in local elections, and Ms. Alberda's research will move our understanding forward. 

In 2012, Gayle received a Warren E. Miller Fellowship from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).  These fellowship awards support young scholars and innovative social science research.

This year, Gayle has accepted a two-year appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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