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Elections & Democracy

Get to Know CDT’s Fellows: Kate Carter

Kate Carter is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also one of CDT’s non-resident Fellows, engaging with our policy teams to provide valuable insight from her research. In this Q & A we get to learn more about Kate and her current work.

Why did you become a CDT fellow?

I became a fellow to engage with CDT’s work on election issues, and participate in a network of experts to apply existing internet policy research to emerging issues of technology and democracy in developing countries.

What is your current research focus?

My current research focuses on the use of technologies like biometric voter registration and digital results transmission in elections. I am interested in understanding how the use of such technologies in East Africa affects the quality of elections.

What is the most pressing internet policy question of today?

In Africa, the role of the state in internet access and control is a critical issue. We’ve seen how government-led restrictions like shutdowns are being used across the continent for political control.

What issues do you think more students should be studying?

Area studies and foreign languages are so important. Some of the best policy work and academic research is produced by those who have invested time in understanding a particular region or country.

What does the future hold for the internet?

The future of the internet in Africa is linked to the quality of institutions that can enable unrestricted and reliable access. Tech and internet applications have made incredible advances for development, but ultimately the political context will determine their potential.

What is your favorite topic to teach?

Introducing undergraduates to the politics of other countries is quite rewarding. It can spark a curiosity to learn new languages, study abroad, or engage in international research.

What advice do you have for aspiring tech & internet academics?

There is a need for more research examining technology and internet issues in developing countries and for more researchers from developing countries.

What passion or hobby do you have outside of tech & the internet?

I love being in nature! There is great hiking and camping in Kenya where I am currently living and doing research.