Shoko Kiyohara teaches American politics and information and communication policy at the School of Information and Communication, Meiji University. She was a Fulbright Dissertation Fellow at Georgetown University in 2005. Her dissertation was published in 2008 with funds from the Ohira Masayoshi Foundation. She received the Telecom Social Science Award for her book titled The Telecommunications Policy Process in Contemporary America: A Reform of the Universal Service Fund from the Telecommunications Advancement Foundation in March 2009.
During her sabbatical, she returned to Washington, DC to be a visiting researcher at Georgetown University and a visiting scholar at the APSA Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs for the 2014 academic year. Her Abe Fellowship was held from September 2015 to August 2016.
The aim of this project is to make a comparative study of electronic voting (E-voting) and Internet election campaigns in the U.S. and Japan, and to present a grand design of election systems in the Internet Age to the Japanese policy community. With rapid pervasiveness of social media and smartphones in the U.S. and Japan, there are synchronic problems how to develop democracy and to increase voter turnout. For example, will the Internet election campaigns change the politics and society? Will the Internet election campaigns create public sphere? Should we use digital technology for voting with security risks? These questions are to be tackled in the area of election policy, which is highly policy relevance in the contemporary information society. Many political scientists and sociologists have tried to answer these questions. While most of previous studies focus on the U.S. cases, there are few comparative studies aimed primary at the U.S. and East Asian countries. Therefore I have led a team to work on comparative studies in Japan, the U.S. and Korea since 2009. The projects got a lot of attentions by the media in 2013 and could affect policymaking in Japan. Let me explain that. In comparison with the U.S. election laws, the Public Officials Election Act in Japan strictly prohibited using the Internet from election campaigns. After the long political debate, the Act was finally revised in April, 2013 and the Internet election campaigns became possible on the Upper House Election in July, 2013. During the process, I was interviewed by the media as a professional many times. However, we still have many complicated rules so that we will have to review the Act. On the other hand, the U.S. is the most advanced country in terms of Internet election campaigns in the world, and doesn't have almost any regulations on Internet election campaigns. Additionally, some have moved ahead on E-voting with technological innovation. In Japan, we started E-voting with touch screens in mayoral elections and municipal assembly elections in 2002 although the popularity is declining. Now LDP is thinking ahead and preparing for Internet voting for the 2015 LDP's presidential election for the first time. In the U.S., many voters use E-voting systems even for presidential elections. Besides, more and more the military and overseas voters can vote by absentee ballots on the Internet. But no states adopt fully Internet voting. So, both countries face the same issue how they will use digital technology for voting in the future. We should take into consideration with security issues and barrier free voting. However, most of studies on Internet election campaigns are separately done from electronic voting studies. Thus, the feature of the project is to make campaigns and voting inclusive as an electoral process. By the comparative study, I would like to advance a policy proposal to revise election systems in Japan to fit in the contemporary information society. Conclusively, I would like to publish a book on the project to affect policymakers, the media and voters.