Anke Kessler

October 15, 2013

Does Misinformation Demobilize the Electorate?

The 2013 Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy has been awarded to Simon Fraser University Department of Economics Professor Anke Kessler for her research into the robo-call allegations during the 2011 Canadian federal election.

The award ceremony took place on October 15 at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and was followed by a lecture entitled Does Misinformation Demobilize the Electorate? Measuring the Impact of “Robocalls” on the 2011 Canadian Federal Election.

The Sterling Prize honours work that provokes and/or contributes to the understanding of controversy. Kessler’s 2012 discussion paper found that robo-calling, if the phenomenon did occur, could have significantly influenced voter turnout and ballot results in the last federal election.

The award also emphasizes the importance of challenging complacency.

Kessler, who regularly studies political institutions, government structure and elections, hopes that receiving this award will mean a renewal in public interest toward the matter of voter demobilization. She predicts that we will see these kinds of voter suppression strategies increasingly in the future.

“My hope is that political commentators and the public will stay vigilant, and that legislative steps will be taken to address potential abuse, and restore Canadians' level of confidence in an electoral process that is fair and free from deceptive practices.”

“It’s an honour to receive the prize, particularly for some rather serious research that was being directed at contemporary policy, and quite a pressing issue at the time,” states Kessler.