Political Science grad to help shape future of electronic voting

During her time at Brock, Amanda Tieber (BA ’19, MA ’20) studied voting technology and the electoral process. Now, the alumna is putting her learning and research skills into action.

Tieber has begun work at Elections Ontario as a Policy and Strategic Planning Advisor, where she will lead, develop and conduct policy research, development and analysis for strategic, operational and program policy initiatives.

She will also be the lead Research Co-ordinator for the Advisory Committee on Voting Technology and Voting Counting Equipment.

“My role on the committee is to provide research and administrative support,” says Tieber. “The creation of this committee correlates with my research interests and my current involvement with developing online voting standards, so I am eager to see the knowledge, research and recommendations for voting technologies that will surface as a result.”

Since completing her studies last year, Tieber has worked as a research associate on several electronic voting projects, examining use of secure voting in legislatures, municipal deployment and adoption by First Nations, so she is well aware of the implications of using technology in elections.

Tieber found her passion for online voting and her love for research while earning her Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science, and says that her time in the program will apply directly to her desired career path in politics.

“Not only has the MA program provided me with the educational tools needed to be successful in this role, such as research methods, policy advising and interpreting legislation, but it has also provided me with the confidence to believe I can achieve my dreams,” she says.

Tieber says the program provided “amazing” opportunities to build her networks. Working closely with faculty members allowed her and her colleagues to be personally mentored by experts in the field, she adds.

“My supervisor, Associate Professor Nicole Goodman, provided me with the knowledge, tools and immense support that led me to this new role,” says Tieber. “I am incredibly grateful to work with such a supporting, cheering and experienced supervisor and mentor.”

Tieber and Goodman recently presented together at the Canadian Political Science Association Conference, along with Aleksander Essex of Western University, sharing findings from an in-progress paper looking at voter confidence in technology based on experience with technical difficulties.

“The paper leverages a unique natural experiment that occurred in the 2018 municipal elections in Ontario when the voting system of one vendor slowed or stopped working in 43 communities, leaving voters unable to cast ballots,” says Goodman. “The data is unique because you can’t replicate a real-life technical incident that could potentially compromise electoral integrity.”

Although the team’s findings are preliminary, there is strong evidence that the incident affected voters’ satisfaction with, and feelings toward, online voting.

“The paper reviews survey data from online voters who voted before the technical issue and those who voted afterward, which makes it possible to assess whether voter attitudes were less positive after the slowdown,” says Tieber. “Findings are preliminary but show that voters who cast a ballot after the incident were less satisfied with the online voting system process and more likely to report concerns.”

Goodman says she is “incredibly proud” of Tieber’s many accomplishments.

“Amanda wrote an excellent major research project, which contributed to the scholarly literature and made actionable policy recommendations for local officials,” says Goodman. “After its completion, she published the results in a municipal publication to ensure her findings made it directly into the hands of stakeholders.”

Goodman adds that she looks forward to publishing with Tieber in a scholarly journal and “continuing to follow along as she achieves new heights” in her career.

“I am confident Amanda will be successful in her new role and I’m pleased that her master’s degree in Political Science at Brock helped to prepare her for a position like this,” says Goodman. “Amanda’s story is a great one for any current or aspiring Political Science students, showing that with a positive attitude, hard work, determination, passion and mastery of critical thinking and research work, you can achieve a terrific career placement — even in uncertain times.”

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