Information Versus Control: The Electoral Consequences of Polling Place Creation

64 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

See all articles by Jeremy Bowles

Jeremy Bowles

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Horacio Larreguy

Harvard University

Anders Nielsen

Technical University of Denmark

Date Written: October 2, 2020

Abstract

We examine the incentives incumbents face when creating new polling places. First, doing so improves incumbents’ ability to monitor brokers and voters by reducing the number of registered voters per polling station. Second, it reduces the distance traveled by citizens to vote, which
undercuts incumbents’ ability to control the electorate via turnout buying. We evaluate this trade-off in the context of Uganda, where the incumbent significantly influences electoral administration. Drawing on rich administrative data, we leverage discontinuities in the creation of polling places to causally identify the independent effects of (1) the number of voters per polling station and (2) distance to vote on electoral outcomes. We find that decreasing (1) improves incumbent electoral outcomes, while reducing (2) worsens them. The benefits for incumbents outweigh the costs, which rationalizes recent developments to expand polling infrastructure in Uganda and elsewhere.

Keywords: Polling Place Creation, Electoral Consequences

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Bowles, Jeremy and Larreguy, Horacio and Nielsen, Anders, Information Versus Control: The Electoral Consequences of Polling Place Creation (October 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3806422 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3806422

Jeremy Bowles

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Horacio Larreguy (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Anders Nielsen

Technical University of Denmark ( email )

Anker Engelunds Vej 1
Building 101A
Lyngby, 2800
Denmark

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