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Making Outsiders' Votes Count: Detecting Electoral Fraud Through a Natural Experiment


  • Kentaro Fukumoto

    (Gakushuin University)

  • Yusaku Horiuchi

    () (The Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy)


Weak electoral registration requirements are commonly thought to encourage electoral participation, but may also promote electoral fraud. For one, candidates and their supporters can more easily mobilize voters outside the district to register and vote for the candidates, even though these voters do not reside within the district. We statistically detect this classic type of electoral fraud for the first time, by taking advantage of a natural experimental setting in Japanese municipal elections. We argue that whether or not a municipal election was held in April 2003 can be regarded as an "as-if" randomly assigned treatment. The difference-in-difference analysis of municipality-month panel data shows that an increase in the new population just prior to April 2003 is significantly larger in treatment municipalities (with an election) than in control ones (without an election). The estimated effects are, in some cases, decisive enough to change the electoral results, especially when the election is competitive. We argue that our approach – "election timing as treatment" – can be applied to investigate not only this type of electoral fraud but also other "electoral connection[s]" (Mayhew 1974) in other countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Kentaro Fukumoto & Yusaku Horiuchi, 2011. "Making Outsiders' Votes Count: Detecting Electoral Fraud Through a Natural Experiment," Crawford School Research Papers 1101, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:crwfrp:1101

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    Cited by:

    1. Vardan Baghdasaryan & Giovanna Iannantuoni & Valeria Maggian, 2017. "Electoral Fraud and Voter Turnout: An experimental study," Working Papers halshs-01511596, HAL.
    2. Vardan, Baghdasaryan & Giovanna, Iannantuoni & Valeria, Maggian, 2015. "Electoral fraud and voter turnout," Working Papers 315, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 25 Nov 2015.
    3. Garmann, Sebastian, 2016. "Concurrent elections and turnout: Causal estimates from a German quasi-experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 167-178.

    More about this item


    electoral fraud; natural experiment; local elections; Japan;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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