Growth of Electoral Fraud in Non-Democracies: The Role of Uncertainty
Electoral fraud has become an integral part of electoral competition both in established democracies and less-than-democratic regimes. In this paper I study electoral fraud in the non-democratic setting. First, I present evidence of fraud sustainability and growth over the lifetime of non-democratic regimes in post-Soviet and Sub-Saharan countries. Second, I provide a theoretical model that explains the observed tendency of growing fraud. Specifically, in a probabilistic voting model of electoral competition with falsifications, a corrupt incumbent faces two types of uncertainty: uncertainty about voters’ attitude towards fraud and uncertainty about his true support, captured by a purely random component in the voters’ utility over candidates. The model predicts that when uncertainty is sufficiently large, higher uncertainty about voters’ fraud intolerance provides weaker incentives to commit fraud. Over time the incumbent becomes more certain about voters’ reaction to fraud because of learning through Bayesian updating and, thus, as the deterrent role of fraud intolerance uncertainty declines, the incentives to commit fraud become stronger, providing a growing fraud profile.
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