Participation in fraudulent elections

Research paper by Dmitriy Vorobyev

Indexed on: 07 Dec '15Published on: 07 Dec '15Published in: Social Choice and Welfare


I analyze a costly voting model of elections in which the incumbent can stuff the ballot box to investigate how electoral fraud affects the decisions of voters to participate. I find that two stable equilibria may exist: an abstention equilibrium, where none of the voters vote and the incumbent always wins, and a more efficient coordination equilibrium, where a substantial share of a challenger’s supporters vote and the candidate preferred by the majority is likely to win. I further show that because the higher capability of the incumbent to stuff a ballot box discourages the participation of his own supporters and creates participation incentives for the challenger’s supporters, higher fraud does not always benefit the incumbent, even when costless. The model may help to explain two empirical observations related to fraudulent elections: a positive relationship between fraud and the margin of victory and a negative relationship between fraud and voter turnout.