Hitting Them with Carrots: Voter Intimidation and Vote Buying in Russia

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Authors Timothy Frye, Ora John Reuter, David Szakonyi
Journal/Conference Name BRITISH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
Paper Category
Paper Abstract From robocalls to vote buying scholars have identified many ways that politicians mobilize voters to the polls. One mobilization tactic that has received less attention, however, is electoral intimidation. We use survey experiments and crowd-sourced electoral violation reports from the 2011-12 election cycle in Russia to explore this understudied phenomenon. We develop a simple argument about the conditions under which voter intimidation is likely to occur. Consistent with arguments about the decline of vote buying in middle-income countries, we find little evidence that vote buying was practiced on a large scale in this election. Voter intimidation, however, was widespread, especially among employed voters and in Russia’s many single company towns where employers have considerable leverage over employees. In these single company towns, the consequences of job loss are so grave that employer intimidation may often be sufficient to induce compliance even without direct monitoring of voter behavior. Outside of company towns where employers have less leverage, active forms of monitoring may supplement intimidation in order to encourage compliance. These results suggest that employers can be reliable vote brokers; that voter intimidation can persist in a middle-income country; and that, under some conditions intimidation may be employed without the need for active monitoring.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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