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Electoral Fraud: Causes, Types, and Consequences
This article reviews research on electoral fraud—clandestine and illegal efforts to shape election results. Only a handful of works classify reports on electoral fraud to identify its nature, magnitude, and causes. This review therefore looks at the larger number of historical works (as well as some ethnographies and surveys) that discuss ballot rigging. Its conclusions are threefold. First, fraud takes on a panoply of forms; it ranges from procedural violations of electoral law (that may or may not intend to distort results) to the outright use of violence against voters. Second, even when ballot rigging is an integral part of electoral competition, it is infrequently decisive. Fraud, nevertheless, undermines political stability because, in close races, it can be crucial. Third, political competition shapes the rhythm and nature of electoral fraud. Efforts to steal elections increase with inequality, but competitiveness—which institutions help to shape—determines the ballot-rigging strategies parties adopt.