Elizabeth Bennion, a professor of political science at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB),
virtually lectured at Goshen College on October 14 on what voters need to know before
casting their ballots in the upcoming presidential election.
Bennion works to discover the best ways to make citizens politically and civically engaged.
Her love for politics blossomed at 9 years of age when she attended a political protest.
Bennion was one of 200 others urging support for the Equal Rights Amendment at the New
Britain City Hall in Connecticut. The Hartford Courant captured her picture, and she managed to
save the newspaper clipping.
“I was introduced to this idea of really trying to make your voice heard early on in life,” Bennion
Her parents would take her with them to vote and talked about politics over breakfast.
When her mother left for conventions with the League of Women Voters, young Elizabeth
stayed home with her father. “The result would be sitting for three hours at a table while he tried
to make us eat a piece of broccoli, which, really, pick your battles,” she said.
Her father would try his best to do what needed to be done, and the conventions stood out
because her mother was normally home to care for Bennion.
Determined to be as politically active and serve the community, she accomplished several feats.
At IUSB, she founded the American Democracy Project, a national initiative run by the
American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
According to Bennion, their goal is to “equip students with the knowledge, skills, values, and
experience they need to make a meaningful difference in their communities.”
The American Democracy Project wants voices heard so that necessary changes can come.
She upholds these principles as the host of WNIT’s weekly TV program, “Politically Speaking.”
The show features Bennion’s interviews with guest legislators, reporters [remember AP says no
final comma in a series] and academics. They speak on issues – local, state and national – that
The program airs on Sundays at 2 p.m., Mondays at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 7 p.m.
Bennion has received awards for her contributions toward education, politics and service. In
2019, IUSB gave[removes awarded/Award echo] her the Trustee’s Teaching Award, the eighth
time she has received this honor.
Her recent research appears in two books, available for free online: “Teaching Civic
Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen” and “Teaching Civic Engagement Across the
Through field experiments, she conducts research on voter patterns and practices.
Her most noteworthy experiment looked at voter registration on college campuses in Indiana.
“Even though many of these campuses had hallway tables for registration, students were passing
those up,” Bennion said. “They weren’t necessarily all using them versus bringing them into the
classroom where they really had that designated time.”
Bringing registration opportunities closer to students, in the classrooms, led to higher rates of
She said that this presidential election will focus on key issues on which the health of the nation
depends, such as the pandemic, racial and ethnic turmoil, and climate change.
Every vote is needed to change the outcome of the future.
If choosing to vote by mail, students should be aware that this option affects voter turnout.
In Elkhart County, the primary election registered 121,577 voters with 11,881 absentees on June
2. These absentees are the ones who were permitted to vote by mail, and there is no telling yet
what the turnout will be once numbers come in for the election in November.
Either way, students should research their candidates and follow all instructions on the ballot.
In her lecture, Bennion encourages further preparation by taking a closer look into the situation,
teaching students engagement in a time that needs it most.
The presentation took place at 7:30 p.m., followed by questions, answers and discussion.