Housed in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research, The Constituency-Level Elections Archive (CLEA) is a repository of detailed results from lower and upper house elections from around the world. The project provides opportunities for students to be involved at all stages of the data collection process, providing a valuable training experience.
Brooke Booska, an undergraduate sophomore studying economics and philosophy, joined the CLEA team as a research assistant in September 2022.
“I was hoping to gain research experience and especially to work on something that feels more impactful than an academic assignment,” she said. “CLEA offered me the opportunity to expand my role at U-M from being a student to being a part of something serving the greater public.”
At CLEA, Booska uses a source and a template to code election data and input results into a CLEA-formatted spreadsheet that contains a rich set of information about candidates, parties, awarded vote proportions, and seats won. Booska said it can take anywhere from a week to several months to code an election for CLEA, depending on the voting system size.
Booksa shared three benefits of her work on CLEA:
- Learning about different electoral systems in different countries
- Getting to know students and faculty outside of her regular circle, with a fun and welcoming team
- Gaining transferable skills in Excel and project and task management
“From working on CLEA, I have learned how to tackle large projects. When you are entering data for an enormous country like Canada, it can seem daunting and never-ending,” she said. “Yet, if you can learn to break up the task into smaller, more achievable ones, the overwhelming project becomes much more manageable. This method for working on large tasks has trickled into my school work, especially essay writing. Instead of avoiding intimidating assignments, I have learned to bend them in such a way that works for me. This has made me much more comfortable tackling larger projects and goals such as studying abroad.”
More than 80 students have participated in CLEA, many of them through the Undergraduate Student Research Opportunity Program (UROP). Participation has shaped many of their research interests and career paths.