Meet the Team: Alex Flores

Another installment of our running series introducing the faces behind the Lab!

Next up: a fine fellow.

We're thrilled to introduce Alex Flores to our readers. Alex joined the Lab recently as a postdoctoral fellow, and we can't wait to see where his research leads us.

How long have you been at the Lab? What do you do?

I joined the team in March 2022 as a Postdoctoral Fellow where I contribute to the lab’s ongoing research projects while also devising new approaches to the study of elections in the U.S., primarily work that explores access to voting among historically excluded communities of color.

What were you working on before you joined MEDSL?

Prior to my arrival at MIT, I was completing my PhD in political science at the University of Chicago. Briefly, my dissertation focused on the psychological and socio-linguistic processes that explain political behavior (primarily among English-Spanish Latinx bilinguals in the U.S.). Specifically, it weaved together three distinct yet interrelated threads of investigation: namely, the first two tested the effectiveness of political rhetoric when communicated between languages while the third examined the limits to the persuasive effects of Spanish-language political advertisements when they are poorly executed. This early work is part of a broader research agenda that explores how inclusivity in American politics actually functions, particularly over a linguistic divide.

How did you become interested in elections?

I became interested in elections after learning about the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hernandez v. Texas. As an undergraduate research assistant for a project commemorating its 20th anniversary, I was captivated by the distinct legal challenges at stake: plaintiffs argued against the systematic use of all white juries in a predominantly Hispanic Texas town; but since there was nothing prohibiting discrimination within a racial group, and given that Hispanics are racially white, the Court needed evidence of a unique ethnic experience in the U.S. needing equal protection under the law. I draw inspiration from Hernandez, and I take seriously the opportunity as a scholar to shed light on political trajectories and perspectives that are not self-evident or have often been overlooked.

What's your favorite fun fact?

Fifty-percent of the last six U.S. presidents are left-handed—George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Admittedly, my interest is based on the fact that I am also left-handed. Even then, in terms of demographic statistics, that is an astounding share of southpaws in the White House when you consider only ten-percent of the global population is left-handed.

What MEDSL project are you most excited about?

MEDSL is currently working on two fantastic studies that explore different aspects of election administration: one that looks at election audits and the other examines public engagement with election officials on social media.  Interestingly, both interrogate how voters express their grievances or subjective concerns about the integrity of elections and what it takes to quell those concerns.

Alex Flores is a postdoctoral fellow at the MIT Election Data + Science Lab. His current research agenda traces the institutional arrangements, and their behavioral implications, that underpin the role of language in politics. Learn more about his work at his website here.

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