Data-Driven Campaigning, Electoral Regulation & Australian Democracy

Electoral Regulation Research Network seminar

Tuesday 18  May 2021

About the Talk

If we are to believe many prominent commentators, data-driven campaigning and microtargeting are said to not only be changing election campaigns, but democracy itself. Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, told the Guardian, “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons”. While there have been numerous enquiries and investigations into data-driven campaigning across the globe, our understanding of the way political parties collect and use data and what voters think of these practices is extremely limited. In this presentation, Glenn Kefford drawed on his original research from his recent book on data-driven campaigning to provide answers to both questions and demonstrate that there is a significant disconnect between current campaign practices and Australian voter attitudes towards these practices.

Glenn’s book presentation was accompanied by the comments of:

  • Prof. Juliet Pietsch, Griffith University
  • Prof. Graeme Orr, University of Queensland
  • Tegan Cohen, PhD Candidate at Queensland University of Technology

Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma, ERRN Queensland chapter organizer, Griffith University


Glenn Kefford is a lecturer in political science at the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. For the period 2019-2021 he is also an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow. His research explores questions about political parties, elections, campaigning, populism and the radical right. These interests span both Australian and comparative politics. He has published widely on these topics and his work has appeared in journals such as Party Politics, the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Parliamentary Affairs and the Australian Journal of Political Science

Professor Juliet Pietsch is Head of the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. She is a leading scholar in the specialist fields of migration politics and political behaviour in Australia and Southeast Asia. She has published more than 60 research publications, including six single-authored and co-authored books and edited collections. Juliet has also played a lead investigator role on six ARC grants - collectively worth more than $1.6 million - that involve the development of research data infrastructure for the study of migration and political behaviours.

Graeme Orr is Professor at School of Law at University of Queensland. The law of politics, in particular electoral law, is Professor Orr's primary research expertise. He has authored The Law of Politics (1st edn 2010, 2nd edn 2019) and Ritual and Rhythm in Electoral Systems (2015), co-authored The Law of Deliberative Democracy (2016), co-edited Realising Democracy (2003), Electoral Democracy: Australian Prospects (2011) and The Cambridge Handbook of Deliberative Constitutionalism (2018) and edited 3 symposia on the law of politics. His doctoral thesis explored the nature and regulation of electoral bribery. In the field of the law of politics, he does consultancy and pro bono work, and regular media commentary.

Tegan Cohen is PhD Candidate at Queensland University of Technology. Her thesis title is “Political platforms: A comparative analysis of the privacy law responses to data-intensive political campaigning using social media in Australia, the US and the UK”.

Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma is Senior Lecturer and Director, Engagement in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. An applied political scientist with consulting, public policy, research and teaching experience, his research specialises in elections, electoral integrity, comparative politics, political parties and electoral behaviour. Ferran worked at the University of Sydney and at the Centro de Investigaciones y Docencia Economicas (CIDE) in Mexico. He has also been a policy practitioner at the national - Spain's Prime Minister's office- and local level (Barcelona City Hall). Ferran currently holds an ARC grant is exploring how political actors shape turnout.