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Professor-Student Research on Voter Turnout Published

CONWAY, Ark. (February 26, 2018) – In a political climate that relies increasingly on private donations, a research paper by a Hendrix College professor and student provides a timely exploration of how private political funding may affect voter turnout.

The article, “Do private donations depress electoral turnout? An empirical investigation of voter participation,” will be published in the April issue of Electoral Studies and currently appears online

Dr. Kiril Kolev, James and Emily Bost Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations, and Anushah Jiwani ’17, a double major in International Relations and English-Creative Writing, collaborated on the project over the course of the 2016-2017 academic year, examining election patterns in the United States and 114 other democratic countries.

“The idea for the paper arose during discussions in the Hendrix Democracy Program, a student forum to explore issues of governance,” Kolev said. “The support of the Hendrix Odyssey Program has been essential in making the forum, as well as the more focused research work that followed, possible.”

The researchers considered the impact of three different mechanisms of the relationship between private political funding and voter turnout, finding strong indications that banning corporate donations from entities with ties to the government and limiting the amount of money that can be given by private donors tends to get more voters to the polls.

“We have found that in addition to limiting private donations, requiring candidates to reveal the identity of their donors seems to boost voter participation: candidates’ transparency seems to increase voters’ trust,” Jiwani said. “Our research also supports the existing arguments that link high voter turnout with a higher standard of living, and the institutional frameworks of parliamentarism and proportional representation.”

The analysis points out nuances in the relationship between voter participation and particular types of regulations. It also demonstrates that citizens are less likely to vote when political finance is not restricted due to disillusionment.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit