Field Experiment Estimate of Electoral Fraud in Russian Parliamentary Elections

New Economic School, Moscow 117418, Russia.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 12/2012; 110(2). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1206770110
Source: PubMed


Electoral fraud is a widespread phenomenon, especially outside the developed world. Despite abundant qualitative and anecdotal evidence on its existence from around the world, there is very limited quantitative evidence on the extent of electoral fraud. We exploit random assignment of independent observers to 156 of 3,164 polling stations in the city of Moscow to estimate the effect of electoral fraud on the outcome of the Russian parliamentary elections held on December 4, 2011. We estimate the actual share of votes for the incumbent United Russia party to be at least 11 percentage points lower than the official count (36% instead of 47%). Our results suggest that the extent of the fraud was sufficient to have had a substantial impact on the outcome of the elections; they also confirm that the presence of observers is an important factor in ensuring the integrity of the procedure.

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Available from: Konstantin Sonin, Feb 18, 2015
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    • "In the empirical literature, differently than in the theoretical one, electoral fraud has been studied from various perspectives. Enikolopov et al. (2013) show that, during the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections, electoral fraud was sufficient to impact substantially the outcome of the elections. In line with this study, Collier and Hoeffler (2009) investigate the causal relationship between electoral fraud and the probability of the incumbent to win the elections (i.e. "
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    DESCRIPTION: In this paper we experimentally investigate the consequences of electoral fraud on voter turnout. The experiment is based on a strategic binary voting model where voters decide whether to cast a costly vote in favour of their preferred candidate or to abstain. Minority candidate can illicitly influence the electoral process by applying ballot box stuffing. In the experiment we implement two different framings: we compare voter turnout in a neutral environment and with framed instructions to explicitly replicate elections. This approach enables to both test the model’s predictions and to estimate framing effects of voting and fraud. Comparison of experimental results with theoretical predictions reveals over-voting, which is exacerbated when fraud is applied. Moreover, turnout increases with moderate level of fraud. However, with more extensive electoral fraud, theoretical predictions are not matched. Voters fail to recognize that the existence of a relatively larger number of “agents” voting with certainty considerably decreases the benefits of voting. Importantly, framing matters, as revealed by the higher turnout of those in the majority group, against which the fraud is applied. Finally, individual level regression analysis provides evidences of strategic voting.
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    • "While the Kremlin underestimated the opposition's challenges, the latter was able to take advantage of the miscalculations and the sluggishness of the campaign for the 2011 State Duma elections (Gel'man 2013). Tactical voting for 'anyone but United Russia' and effective negative advertising contributed to the politicisation of a large number of voters, and large-scale electoral fraud (Enikolopov et al. 2013) became a trigger event for mass protests. Their scope was unexpected both for the Kremlin and for the opposition itself: the opposition leaders even in their wildest dreams could not have imagined dozens of thousands of protesters in the Moscow streets, their slogans suddenly shifting from 'For Fair Elections!' to 'Putin, Go Away!'. "

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    ABSTRACT: Does online social media undermine authoritarianism? We examine the conditions under which online social networks can increase public awareness of electoral fraud in non-democracies. We argue that a given online social network will only increase political awareness if it is first politicized by elites. Using survey data from the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections, we show that usage of Twitter and Facebook, which were politicized by opposition elites, significantly increased respondents' perceptions of electoral fraud, while usage of Russia's domestic social networking platforms, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, which were not politicized by opposition activists, had no effect on perceptions of fraud. Our study elucidates the causes of post-election protest by uncovering a mechanism through which knowledge of electoral fraud can become widespread.
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