MSU’s Merivaki explores election trust, access through Democracy Renewal Project research funding

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State political scientist is among the inaugural slate of researchers granted funding through nonprofit Public Agenda’s Democracy Renewal Project aimed at exploring and strengthening voter trust and experience as the country moves toward the 2024 presidential election.

Thessalia Merivaki portrait
Thessalia Merivaki (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Thessalia Merivaki, an MSU associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, is using the grant to build a publicly available database of election officials’ social media communications. She is collaborating with Connecticut College Assistant Professor Mara Suttmann-Lea, in partnership with the National Conference on Citizenship’s Algorithmic Transparency Institute. The database will be a resource for election officials, researchers, advocates and policymakers working to use communications to improve voter experience and trust. 

“This project will allow us to continue our efforts to monitor the election information environment and provide real-time data analytics on how election officials communicate with voters about voting and election security,” Merivaki said. “Our work will be a valuable resource to the election community, broadly defined, particularly during a period when trust in elections is declining.”

Ten teams of scholars from across the U.S. are splitting $500,000 from Public Agenda to focus on achieving full access to electoral participation for all citizens while strengthening trust in elections, two essential goals for the legitimacy and sustainability of democracy.

“Public Agenda launched the Democracy Renewal Project because a major barrier to success in efforts to strengthen democracy is the lack of high-quality, actionable evidence,” said Andrew J. Seligsohn, Public Agenda president. “These projects will be valuable to people seeking to make improvements to our democracy, and they demonstrate the value of investing in rigorous research that’s focused on questions at the heart of pro-democracy practice.”

The funded projects explore various aspects of electoral participation, including the impact of placing election observers at polling sites and informing voters about accessible records, as well as strategies for public officials to foster trust and bipartisan engagement.

All research from the Democracy Renewal Project will be transformed into practical tools and resources tailored for pro-democracy advocates, policymakers and funders.

For more details about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, visit and

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Thursday, April 25, 2024 - 3:02 pm