Scores of Ontario residents did something last week that may soon be a thing of the past: they lined up at polling stations, ballot in hand, ready to cast their vote to determine the next provincial government.
While elections will remain, the physical queues at polling stations may one day be replaced by online and telephone voting, the implications of which Brock political scientist Nicole Goodman and her colleagues are exploring in their research.
Goodman is one of 11 researchers at Brock who were recently awarded Insight Grants of more than $1.1 million from the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). In addition, 16 students were awarded SSHRC student grants totalling $565,000 for a grand total of $1.6 million at Brock.
Examining select municipalities in the 2018 Ontario municipal elections, Goodman is studying how online and telephone voting impacts voter turnout, the composition of the voting population and residents’ attitudes towards local political institutions and representatives.
This is a significant issue for Canada. Paper voting has been eliminated and replaced with either online voting or a combination of internet and telephone ballots in select Ontario and Nova Scotia municipalities, making them the only jurisdictions in the world to do so, she says.
“Online voting is becoming more commonplace: people are using it, and we know little about the effects,” says Goodman. “Nobody knows what happens when you make elections fully electronic. This research will give academics and government officials a sense of what types of effects this policy change could have.”
Meanwhile, kinesiologist Kimberley Gammage, another Insight Grant recipient, is conducting body image research with a twist. She is looking at how people of all age groups can use physical activity as a tool to love and respect their physiques.
She notes how research on body image tends to focus on why mostly young women have negative views of their bodies and how this dissatisfaction leads to harmful practices such as eating disorders.
“In my lab, we look at positive body image, because it’s different than negative body image,” says Gammage. “It’s loving and appreciating your body for what it is now and not wishing you were something else. It’s focusing on the functioning of your body as opposed to what it looks like and realizing that what It looks like is not all that important in the overall scheme of things.”
Gammage says her research will contribute to the design of exercise programs for various age groups that use physical activities, such as sports or yoga, to promote positive body image.
Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon noted how the success rate for Brock researchers applying for Insight Grants was 55 per cent in this latest competition, up from 32 per cent last year.
“I’m delighted by the wide range of research being funded,” says Kenyon. “This variety reflects the diverse interests and expertise of our researchers as we engage with the issues of our community, country and world.”
This year’s Insight Grant recipients include:
- Kareen Brown, Goodman School of Business, “CEO post-retirement employment and firms’ reporting and operating decisions.”
- Elspeth Cameron, Faculty of Humanities, “Biography of Canadian poet Dorothy Livesay.”
- Xavier Fazio, Faculty of Education, “Connecting school science to local communities: promoting meaningful engagement for students”
- Kimberley Gammage, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Learning to love the body you’re in: Using physical activity to promote positive body image across the lifespan.”
- Nicole Goodman, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Electronic elections: the effects of voting modernization on local elections.”
- Daniel Malleck, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Prescribing professionalism, druggists, doctors and the emergence of professional pharmacy in Canada.”
- Thomas O’Neill, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Youth political engagement in emerging Nepali democracy.”
- Rebecca Raby, Faculty of Social Sciences, “First jobs: young people’s reflections on very early paid employment in Canada.”
- Larry Savage, Faculty of Social Sciences, “Academic unions, collective bargaining and contract academic faculty.”
- Samir Trabelsi, Goodman School of Business, “The economic consequences of greenwashing.”
- Dawn Trussell, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “More than child’s play, it’s a family affair: board member, parent and family life identity in community youth sport.”
SSHRC’s Insight Grants program provides funding for three to five years for research that accomplishes a number of goals, including building knowledge and understanding, supporting new approaches to research and providing training experiences for students.