Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 13 > Issue 1

Strategies of Election Rigging: Trade-Offs, Determinants, and Consequences

Zhaotian Luo, Department of Politics, New York University, USA, zl641@nyu.edu , Arturas Rozenas, Department of Politics, New York University, USA, ar199@nyu.edu
Suggested Citation
Zhaotian Luo and Arturas Rozenas (2018), "Strategies of Election Rigging: Trade-Offs, Determinants, and Consequences", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 13: No. 1, pp 1-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00016095

Publication Date: 29 Mar 2018
© 2018 Z. Luo and A. Rozenas
Democratization,  Elections,  Autocracy,  Game theoretic models,  Elections,  Formal modeling,  Game theory
Election fraudManipulationConflictPeaceAccountability


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In this article:
Motivating Examples and Previous Literature 
Benchmark Models 
Integrated Model 
Accountability-Peace Trade-Off 
Election Rigging and Post-Election Protests 
Extension: Ballot-Stuffing 


Ideally, elections should peacefully allocate political power and remove bad leaders from office. We study how the electoral mechanism performs when the government can rig elections by manipulating the electoral process ex ante and by falsifying election returns ex post. The extent to which elections contribute to peace and accountability depends on how incumbents trade-off between the two strategies given the institutional constraints. An option to falsify election results without being exposed increases the risk of conflict even if that option is not realized in equilibrium, but an option to use ex-ante manipulation reduces the risk of conflict. Imposing constraints on one strategy of election rigging when the incumbent can substitute it with another leads to perverse trade-offs: Constraining ex-ante manipulation raises the risk of conflict, but may improve accountability. Making ex-post falsification more difficult to hide improves the prospect of peace, but worsens accountability.