Rice University

Rice University Center for Civic Leadership

Upcoming HART Projects

Spring 2020 Projects:  

Evaluating Harris County's New Countywide Voting System (Spring 2020)

Understanding Local Transportation Spending (Spring 2020)

Alteratives to Incarrceration (Spring 2020)

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Evaluating Harris County's New Countywide Voting System (Spring 2020)

Harris County began operating Election Day Vote Centers (EDVCs) during the May 2019 Joint election. EDVCs allow voters to cast ballots at any location rather than only their voting precinct and have been used widely in other states with significant benefits to both voters and election administrators, including shorter lines and wait times to vote, more locations where voters can cast their ballots, increased opportunities for voting among underrepresented populations, increased efficiency and reduced overall cost of voting for county governments. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation is necessary in order to determine the effectiveness of EDVCs in the Houston area, and is required by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office in order for Harris County to be able to continue operating their EDVC program. The Harris County Clerk’s Office has asked for a Houston Action Research Team to conduct this evaluation for the May 2019 and November 2019 elections.

During Spring of 2020, this HART (Houston Action Research Team) will:

  • Use data from the Harris County voter rolls, real-time line length data, as well as exit polls and polling place evaluations conducted by Rice students
  • Model and identify which polling place attributes are related to factors of voter satisfaction and experience, such as length of lines, time to vote and ballot completion
  • Hypothesize and test explanations for how voters choose when and where to vote
  • Measure the turnout effects of offering voters alternative days, times and locations at which to vote
  • Complete a written report and oral presentation of findings and recommendations for the Harris County Clerk’s Office

This engaged research opportunity is available to Rice undergraduate students for Spring of 2020. An interdisciplinary team of four students, each of whom will bring different, but equally important, skills, knowledge, and experiences, will undertake this project. Team members will each work approximately 10 hours per week on this project between January 13th and May 6th under the guidance of Dr. Bob Stein (Political Science) and CCL staff and will receive $10/hour for their project work. Work time will be flexible, although team members must attend weekly meetings and must coordinate time to work with other team members on the project as needed. Undergraduate students from all fields of study with interests and/or skills in at least some of the following areas are encouraged to apply: 

Voting, elections, political science, research design, data analysis, public policy, statistics, professional writing, public presentations, teamwork, community engagement

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE November 24, 2019

To inquire or apply contact Dr. Alan Steinberg, steinberg@rice.edu

For more about Rice’s HART Program, visit: https://ccl.rice.edu/students/act/hart  

Application instructions are available HERE

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Understanding Local Transportation Spending (Spring 2020)

Transportation is a major public issue in the Houston area be it due to safety, connectivity, congestion, pot holes, or accessibility, as well as insufficient sidewalks, mass transit, and micromobility options. Because of its large scope, there are many stakeholders at multiple levels in both the public and private sectors concerned about transportation. Meanwhile, there are a diverse array of transportation projects happening simultaneously with lots of money being spent and questionable accountability regarding public interests. This research supports LINK Houston, a nonprofit that advocates for a robust and equitable transportation network so that all people can reach opportunity, in working to ensure budget transparency to help Houston area residents understand how local government uses transportation-related funding in comparison with the needs of communities and community-expressed priorities.  

During Spring of 2020, this HART (Houston Action Research Team) will:

  • Identify and map stakeholders with a role in transportation with an emphasis on elected officials, offices and agencies in the Houston area
  • Create a process map that identifies funding for transportation programs connected to the identified stakeholders
  • Collect and reconcile available data on transportation spending with a focus on accountability of funding
  • Analyze this data on spending to understand how funding supports community needs
  • Complete a written report and oral presentation of findings and recommendations for LINK Houston

This engaged research opportunity is available to Rice undergraduate students for Spring of 2020. An interdisciplinary team of four students, each of whom will bring different, but equally important, skills, knowledge, and experiences, will undertake this project. Team members will each work approximately 10 hours per week on this project between January 13th and May 6th under the guidance of Rice faculty and CCL staff and will receive $10/hour for their project work. Work time will be flexible, although team members must attend weekly meetings and must coordinate time to work with other team members on the project as needed. Undergraduate students from all fields of study with interests and/or skills in at least some of the following areas are encouraged to apply:

Transportation, urban planning, sociology, policy, budging, research design, data analysis, professional writing, public presentations, teamwork, community engagement, non-profits

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE Novemvber 24, 2019

To inquire or apply contact Dr. Alan Steinberg, steinberg@rice.edu

For more about Rice’s HART Program, visit: https://ccl.rice.edu/students/act/hart  

Application instructions are available HERE

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Alternatives to Incarceration (Spring 2020)

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) advances solutions and builds coalitions to reduce mass incarceration and foster safer Texas communities. This project will support the TCJC by researching alternatives to incarceration and exploring how funds currently used to support the costs of incarceration could be used more effectively through community support programs. Services such as drug treatment and affordable housing may be more valuable at rehabilitating offenders, and sentencing that involves community service or restorative justice may provide better outcomes for both the offender and those impacted by the crime. This HART project would look deeply at the costs and outcomes of incarceration and compare them to existing and theoretical alternatives.

 

During Spring of 2020, this HART (Houston Action Research Team) will:

  • Review and analyze existing literature on alternatives to incarceration
  • Identify programs that have effectively dealt with concerns of public safety, punishment, rehabilitation, and victim reconciliation
  • Analyze data on the outcomes of incarceration for offenders in Texas considering recidivism and long term impacts on those incarcerated and public safety more broadly
  • Collect information from stakeholders to build a holistic understanding of alternative programs and public willingness to embrace such programs
  • Model data on both short and long term costs and benefits of alternatives to incarceration with a focus on Texas
  • Complete a written report and oral presentation of findings and recommendations for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

 This engaged research opportunity is available to Rice undergraduate students for Spring of 2020. An interdisciplinary team of four students, each of whom will bring different, but equally important, skills, knowledge, and experiences, will undertake this project. Team members will each work approximately 10 hours per week on this project between January 13th and May 6th under the guidance of Jay Jenkins (TCJC) and CCL staff and will receive $10/hour for their project work. Work time will be flexible, although team members must attend weekly meetings and must coordinate time to work with other team members on the project as needed. Undergraduate students from all fields of study with interests and/or skills in at least some of the following areas are encouraged to apply:

 Law, criminal justice, sociology, policy, research design, data analysis, interviewing, professional writing, public presentations, teamwork, community engagement, non-profits

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE Novemvber 24, 2019

To inquire or apply contact Dr. Alan Steinberg, steinberg@rice.edu

For more about Rice’s HART Program, visit: https://ccl.rice.edu/students/act/hart  

Application instructions are available HERE

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