Fraudulent Democracy? An Analysis of Argentina's Infamous Decade using Supervised Machine Learning

44 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 13 Aug 2010

See all articles by Sebastian M. Saiegh

Sebastian M. Saiegh

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Francisco Cantu

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

In this paper we introduce an innovative method to diagnose electoral fraud using vote counts. First, to circumvent data availability problems and to study a particular type of fraud, we create synthetic data using Monte Carlo methods. Next, we build a supervised machine learning tool and use a Naive Bayes classier to distinguish between Benford and Benford-deviant data sets. To illustrate our technique, we examine elections in the province of Buenos Aires (Argentina) between 1931 and 1941, a period with a checkered history of fraud. Using a novel dataset of district-level vote counts, our results corroborate the validity of the conventional wisdom: Conservative manipulation of the electoral process, rather than changes in voters' preferences, led to the dramatic electoral shifts during this period. More generally, our endings indicate that Benford's Law can be an exective tool for identifying fraud, even when minimal information (i.e. electoral returns) is available.

Keywords: Electoral Fraud, Benford Law, Naive Bayes, Monte Carlo Methods, Argentina

Suggested Citation

Saiegh, Sebastian M. and Cantu, Francisco, Fraudulent Democracy? An Analysis of Argentina's Infamous Decade using Supervised Machine Learning (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1644414

Sebastian M. Saiegh (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Francisco Cantu

University of California, San Diego - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

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