Electoral Administration in Fledgling Democracies: Experimental Evidence from Kenya

Journal of Politics, Forthcoming

73 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2020

See all articles by J. Andrew Harris

J. Andrew Harris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Catherine Kamindo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Peter Van der Windt

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Date Written: January 12, 2020

Abstract

We examine the effects of national voter registration policies on voting patterns with a large-scale experimental study. Together with Kenya’s electoral commission, we designed an experiment in which 1,674 communities were randomized to a status quo or treatment group, receiving civic education on voter registration, SMS reminders about registration opportunities, and/or local registration visits by election commission staff. We find little evidence that civic education improves registration. Local registration visits improve voter registration, a relationship that increases in poorer communities. Moreover, local registration increased electoral competition and vote preference diversity in down-ballot contests in the 2017 Kenyan elections. Our results suggest that status quo voter registration policies constrain political participation and competition, and that inexpensive policy changes may attenuate the effects of such constraints.

Keywords: African Politics, Electoral Administration, Field Experiment, Kenya, Voter Registration

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Harris, J. Andrew and Kamindo, Catherine and Van der Windt, Peter, Electoral Administration in Fledgling Democracies: Experimental Evidence from Kenya (January 12, 2020). Journal of Politics, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3520421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3520421

J. Andrew Harris (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Catherine Kamindo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Peter Van der Windt

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

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