Candidate Filtering: The Strategic Use of Electoral Manipulations in Russia

75 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2019 Last revised: 30 Mar 2020

See all articles by David Szakonyi

David Szakonyi

George Washington University; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: March 27, 2020

Abstract

Incumbents have many tools to tip elections in their favor, yet we know little about how they choose between strategies. By comparing various tactics, this paper argues that electoral malpractice centered on manipulating institutions offers the greatest effectiveness while shielding incumbents from public anger and criminal prosecution. To demonstrate this, I focus on one widespread institutional tactic: preventing candidates from accessing the ballot. First, in survey experiments, Russian voters respond less negatively to institutional manipulations, such as rejecting candidates, than to blatant fraud, such as ballot-box stuffing. Next, using evidence from 22,288 Russian mayoral races, I show that lower societal and implementation costs enable incumbents to strategically reject candidacies from credible challengers and lessen electoral vulnerability. Finally, rejecting candidates beforehand reduces the need to commit fraud on election day, while still ensuring favorable outcomes. In all, the technology behind specific manipulations helps determine when and how incumbents violate electoral integrity.

Keywords: elections, fraud, autocracy, authoritarian regimes, Russia, campaigns

Suggested Citation

Szakonyi, David, Candidate Filtering: The Strategic Use of Electoral Manipulations in Russia (March 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3438270 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3438270

David Szakonyi (Contact Author)

George Washington University ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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