U-M experts available for Election Day, post-election analysis

November 5, 2012
Jared Wadley

ANN ARBOR—University of Michigan experts are available to comment on the U.S. presidential elections and offer post-election analysis. For experts/topics not listed below, see http://ns.umich.edu/new/2012-election-experts.

Electronic voting security: Why email and Internet voting is a bad idea
New Jersey voters will be allowed to email or fax their ballots in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. That’s worrisome from a security perspective, says J. Alex Halderman, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science. Halderman hacked into a Washington, D.C., online voting test-bed in 2010, changed all the votes to write-ins for famous robots and rigged the machines to play “The Victors” after each new vote. He teaches Securing Digital Democracy in the free Coursera online education program. In that class, he outlines how hackers can compromise electronic voting machines and Internet voting to steal votes, compromise the secret ballot and change the outcome of elections. His research team has demonstrated many of these threats. He describes the course in this brief video: http://youtu.be/eXSF798qnCA. Halderman can be reached at (609) 558-2312 or jhalderm@umich.edu.

Forecasting elections: Voter intentions versus expectations
Most pollsters base their election projections off questions of voter intentions, which ask “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” By contrast, Justin Wolfers, professor of public policy and economics, explores the value of questions probing voters’ expectations, which typically ask: “Regardless of who you plan to vote for, who do you think will win the upcoming election?” He says polls of voter expectations consistently yield more accurate forecasts than polls of voter intentions. Wolfers is available to discuss his study at (734) 615-6846 or jwolfers@umich.edu.

President Obama, Gov. Romney make last-minute campaign stops
The presidential candidates have crisscrossed the country to sway voters, especially undecided voters. Michael Traugott, professor of communication studies and senior research scientist at the ISR Center for Political Studies, is an authority on political communication, public opinion, media polling and campaign surveys. He can also provide post-election analysis. He can be reached at (734) 647-0421 or mtrau@umich.edu.

Voters expected to follow the elections on social media
More than any other election cycle, voters will be monitoring and commenting on Election Night through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Joshua Pasek, assistant professor of communication studies, has done research exploring how new media and psychological processes each shape political attitudes, public opinion and political behaviors. He is available at (734) 763-3185 or jpasek@umich.edu.

Can the 2012 elections avoid any election fraud?
Coercion, manipulation, ballot stuffing—how do we know when election fraud affects political outcomes? As part of a series profiling issues that affect American voters, political scientist Walter Mebane outlines the factors that provoke election fraud. From correctly counting votes to accurately representing intentions, he can address what political scientists look for to determine whether election outcomes are legitimate. He can be reached at (734) 763-2220 or wmebane@umich.edu. See video: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/ci.badpolitics_ci.detail.

Be informed
How much information should you have before making decisions at the polls? As part of a series profiling issues that affect American voters, political scientist Arthur Lupia explains how using shortcuts to gather information about complex issues and candidates can be advantageous, revealing the impossibility of having “all” of the information. He is available at (734) 647-7549 or lupia@umich.edu. See video: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/ci.cuttingcandidatecorners_ci.detail.

Race will play an important role
Two key voting segments—African Americans and Latinos—could affect who leads the country during the next four years. Political scientist Vincent Hutchings explains how race will play an important role this election. He can be reached at (734) 615-9108 or vincenth@umich.edu. See video: http://ns.umich.edu/new/multimedia/videos/20899-does-race-matter-in-this-election.

The impact on the Affordable Care Act
Kathleen Potempa, dean of the School of Nursing, can discuss critical bills pending in Michigan and other states that let Advanced Practice Nurses practice under their own licenses, independent of physicians. Passage is vital to stem massive predicted physician shortages in Michigan and nationally, as millions qualify for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Potempa can discuss Michigan’s situation in detail, and the national issue in general terms. She can also address the changing role of nurses under the Affordable Care Act. She can be reached at potempa@umich.edu or through Marybeth Lewis at lewismb@umich.edu. See video: http://nursing.umich.edu/about-our-school/news-portal/201211/2720.

Public Health Hot Buttons
Regardless of the outcome in the presidential race, debates about the role of government in public health, and vice versa, undoubtedly will continue. In the November issue of its alumni publication Findings, the University of Michigan School of Public Health asked faculty, graduate students and alumni to weigh in on several key issues facing the nation and world, and offer insight into possible solutions (see full article: http://www.sph.umich.edu/news_events/findings/fall12/policy/hot.htm).

They addressed topics that have been front-and-center in the current political debate, including health care reform and Medicare. The group also tackled issues like Medicaid, motor vehicles and personal technology, medical marijuana, climate change, obesity prevention, gun control, tobacco control, immunization, nanotechnology, young adult rights, genetically modified foods, genetic data sharing, wellness, chemicals management, fracking and health information sharing. The publication also includes a special section on healthcare reform that asks, “Is there a way forward?” on the issue that has stalled out in the current administration.

The following are excerpts on health care reform from faculty who also are available to discuss with media this and other health care policy issues.

Dr. Mark Fendrick, professor in the department of Internal Medicine and Health Management and Policy and co-director of the U-M Center for Value-Based Insurance Design: “In addition to providing health insurance for millions of Americans, the Affordable Care Act expands access to wellness programs and preventive care, and attempts to reorient our health care system toward provider integration and patient-centeredness, critical elements to prevent and treat chronic disease.”

He is an authority on the clinical and economic assessment of medical interventions, with special attention to how technological innovation influences clinical practice, benefit design and health care systems. Fendrick serves on the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee. He can be reached at (734 647-9688 or amfen@umich.edu.

Dr. Richard Hirth, professor and associate chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the U-M School of Public Health: “America’s problems with health care costs, quality and access will not go away, regardless of the outcome of the election. Both sides have proposed a variety of solutions, including health information technology, bundled payments, accountable care organizations, malpractice liability reform, privatization and competition. We don’t know which of these will work best, but we can safely assume that a search for a single ‘magic bullet’ to transform our health care system will yield disappointing results.”

He can discuss how health care reform could be impacted by the outcome of the election and what likely will happen with Medicare under the chosen administration. The general economics of health insurance is one of Hirth’s primary research interests. He also is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and may be reached at rhirth@umich.edu.

Peter Jacobson, professor of health management and policy and director for the Center for Law, Ethics and Health at the School of Public Health: “If Obama is re-elected, the key question will be whether he can find a way to generate public support for the Affordable Care Act. Can Obama reframe the narrative to demonstrate the act’s benefits to the public?”

Jacobson can discuss legal or policy implications of health care reform. His research focuses on the relationship between law and health care delivery, law and public health systems, public health ethics and health care safety net services. He can be reached at pdj@umich.edu.

Marianne Udow-Phillips, lecturer at the School of Public Health and director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, a nonprofit partnership between the U-M Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan: “Regardless of the outcome of the election, our best hope to move forward on policy is that the law stays in place and we give it a chance. If so, we have an opportunity to experience the ACA’s approach to health reform and adjust as we see fit. If not, it will be a long time until any president again tackles systemic reform with a goal to even come close to universal coverage.”

Udow-Phillips, whose expertise is in health care access, coverage, quality and efficiency issues, can discuss public and private health insurance markets and coverage. She can be reached at (734) 998-7555 or mudow@umich.edu.