The Effects of Voter Turnout in U.S. Elections Researched by Ben Menke ‘22

Posted on October 29th, 2020 by

Political science and statistics student, Ben Menke ‘22 researched the effects of voter turnout in United States elections, advised by professor Chris Gilbert. Reflecting on his project, Menke emphasized the importance of shaping the future of our government no matter your political standing:. “Everyone should use their voice in government because the right to vote is the most important right that we have.”   


Menke’s research was inspired by a news article claiming that “The GOP is hurt when it’s easier to vote.” He studied data of previous elections to determine if this partisan claim on voter turnout has any standing. 


Menke’s analysis includes data from various organizations such as the Federal Election Commission, voting researchers at the University of California Los Angeles, and the League of Conservation Voters. Menke concluded that, “as voter turnout increases, you would expect to see a margin of victory that favors democratic candidates.” 


Menke presented his research project to faculty and students during the summer weekly seminars. Recently, Menke was also a panelist for the 2020 Fall Research Symposium where he was able to explain his research data in-depth. Reflecting on his research experience, Menke said, “The most enjoyable part of my research was the opportunity to explore independently and chart my own path in a field I’m passionate about.” 


At Gustavus, Menke is in charge of elections for student senate and involved in the voter engagement team.


Menke’s research on this project was funded by the Johnson and Peterson Summer Research Fellowship. 


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