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Thessalia Merivaki, PhD

Associate Professor in American Politics, Mississippi State University

I am an Associate Professor in American Politics at Mississippi State University, Department of Political Science and Public Administration and a member of the Carter Center’s U.S. Elections Team since September 2020.

My research agenda is situated within the growing field of Election Sciences, which includes the study of election reforms, election administration, voter education, as well as election data transparency and accessibility.

​In the Fall of 2023, I am based in Washington, D.C. as a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University.

My research expertise covers two important dimensions of the electoral process: a. the institutional framework that structures access to voting, and b. the administrative framework that conditions a voter’s right to be informed. Specifically, my research focuses on testing a theory of collaborative governance to illustrate how institutional and administrative rules across the states affect voter behavior. I laid the foundation of this theory in my book, titled The Administration of Voter Registration: Patterns and Variation Across and Within the American States (2021), I argue that institutional design, the variation in state and local administrative procedures and the provision of information can negatively affect the voter experience, broadly defined. I have demonstrated the robustness of this theoretical argument in a series of publications in outlets such as Social Science Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, American Politics Research, Election Law Journal, Public Integrity, Policy Studies and the Journal of Election Administration, Research and Practice.

One of the most significant, I argue, contributions in the study of Election Sciences, is my scholarship on voter education and the role it plays in U.S. elections. As of now, my research is leading national and international scholarship on how voters get informed about elections, how election officials communicate with voters, and how these efforts impact voter behavior. For the last two years, my scholarship has focused on testing two theoretical mechanisms: a. the educative effects of information provision from election officials to voters, and b. the establishment of transparent and trusted networks of communication. The social media voter education project entails a big data collection and analysis approach, as it involves the harvesting of thousands of social media content by over 6,000 election officials across the United States. For the 2022 election cycle, I received a grant from MIT’s Election Science and Data Lab (with Dr. Suttmann-Lea, Connecticut College) to track state and local election officials’ social media communications and identify best practices in how they combat misinformation.

To further build on my ongoing research on voter education in the United States, I received a two-year contract from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (with Dr. Suttmann-Lea, Connecticut College), to design, administer and analyze a survey of state Chief Election Officials to document variation in voter education policies and resources allocated to voter education at the state level. This project will provide the foundation to replicate this study across the thousands of local election jurisdictions in the United States.

Relevant Media

State Expertise: National
Speaks: English

I can help with...

  • Election Results
  • In-person Voting
  • Mail-in Voting
  • Vote Curing

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