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Political scientists to discuss data around election myths

Two political scientists are coming to Cornell to discuss their research on the impact of redistricting, voter identification laws, and election fraud and voter rights – with the goal of inspiring students to vote despite widespread distrust and cynicism toward the election process. 

The lecture, “Securing the Vote,” will be presented by Stephen Ansolabehere, the Frank G. Thompson Professor of Government at Harvard University, and Charles Stewart III, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Kennedy Hall’s Call Auditorium. 

“Getting youth out to the polls is one of the most important goals around planning this event,” said Rosemary Avery, professor of policy analysis and management and Weiss presidential fellow. “The youth vote lags behind on all other age groups in terms of turning out for the vote, but this group can make a huge difference in voting outcomes, particularly in swing states. We want to allow students to hear what the research and data is telling us, and to get them inspired about the role they play in the democratic process.” 

The talk – which is free and open to the public – will focus on facts and figures rather than political issues or leanings, Avery said. 

Ansolabehere’s presentation will examine the laws that protect Americans’ voting rights and how those laws have evolved. Stewart will speak about the right to vote and efforts to improve elections. 

Both speakers will address four recent court cases that have redefined and improved U.S. voting rights. Their presentations will emphasize the important role of the social sciences in the democratic process. 

“There are a lot of myths out there about voter fraud, malfunctioning voting machines, and so on,” Avery said. “Ansolabehere and Stewart are data-driven scientists who know the empirical evidence, so hopefully they will help to dispel skepticism and inspire confidence in our elections.” 

The lecture is supported by a gift from Jennifer Koen-Horowitz ’93 and Mark Horowitz. It is co-sponsored by the College of Human Ecology, the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, the Sloan Program in Health Administration, the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, the Department of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Cornell Public Service Center – Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Campaign. 

Stephen D’Angelo is assistant director of communications in the College of Human Ecology.

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Gillian Smith