Types and Effects of Electoral Malpractice in Southeast Asia, AAS Conference, Toronto 2017

Organized and Chaired by Netina Tan (Asst.Prof, McMaster U) netina@mcmaster.ca

Discussant: Allen Hicken (Assoc. Prof, U of Michigan) ahicken@umich.edu

Panel Abstract: Current literature on electoral malpractice typically highlights ballot rigging, vote count irregularities or illegal acts that occur on the polling day. Less is said about the manipulation of rules before election or their effects. Electoral malpractice can occur in all stages of the electoral cycle and affect electoral competition, representation and participation. As Birch’s work shows, electoral malpractice can manifest through: 1) the manipulation of rules; 2) the manipulation of voters, or 3) manipulation of voting process. This panel adopts qualitative and quantitative research methods to examine how electoral misconduct pre-and post-election affects candidates, parties and voters in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Voting Behavior when Votes are Potentially Traceable

Abstract:  Ballot secrecy is a cornerstone of electoral democracy, since its real or perceived absence can make voters reluctant to express their true political preferences at the ballot box. While much work has been done on how traceable ballots interact with voter intimidation or vote buying, less is known about how the perceived absence of secret ballots affects voter behavior in contexts without voter intimidation and vote buying. Ballots in the stable city-state of Singapore, which has neither overt voter intimidation nor vote buying, contain a pre-assigned unique and non-transferable ID number. While there is no evidence at all that votes are traced, the ID number has led to the myth that they are, and that voting for the opposition can have negative consequences at the individual level. This paper uses a list experiment to formally estimate (i) how widespread the belief in vote tracing is; and (ii) how this belief affects voting behavior. We find that nearly half of the electorate believes that au-thorities track individual votes, and that an estimated 20% may change their voting behavior because of the belief. This magnitude is sufficient to impact significantly electoral outcomes. The paper also makes a clear methodological contribution: we include an extra statement in a subset of our list experiments that is designed to be false for all respondents. This allows us to estimate the mechanical effect of adding additional statements into list experiments. We find the effect to be null for respon-dents with high political knowledge, but sizeable for those with lower knowledge levels. We suggest that future list experiments incorporate this technique in order to control for fatigue and attention bias.

Forms of Pre-Electoral Violence: New Micro-Level Evidence from Indonesia

Abstract: Much of political science literature on pre-election violence has focused on incumbent candidates’ use of violence to manipulate electoral outcomes. Violence leading up to an election serves as a tool for candidates to either suppress voters from turning out on election day, or to prime and recruit voters to vote along ethno-religious lines. There is yet another strategy beyond voter mobilization that has received little attention in the literature: candidate-targeting violence. By inciting violence that target and intimidate rival candidates, political hopefuls can literally reduce the number of competitors in the race and effectively increase their likelihood of winning an election. We use a comprehensively coded electoral violence dataset that occur surrounding direct elections of local executives in Indonesia from 2005 through 2012 to capture different forms of pre-electoral violence. We present patterns of both voter mobilization and candidate targeting in pre-electoral violence and examine when and why political hopefuls adopt either of these strategies.

Brokers, Social Networks, Reciprocity, and Clientelism

Abstract: Brokers are regarded as the lynchpins of clientelist campaign machines. Yet little is known about them who they are, how they target vote-buying, and whether they are effective at mobilizing electoral support for their candidates. Combining a trove of survey data on brokers and voters with an experiment-based measure of reciprocity, and relying on local naming conventions to assess blood and marriage links between brokers and voters, we show that the interaction between network structures and voter reciprocity influence which brokers are employed, shape their targeting strategy, and determine how well they influence voter attitudes and behavior. Our findings shed light on why brokers are widely employed, and why electoral clientelism is found in so many settings it can survive and thrive not only in places where intrinsic reciprocity influences voting but also in places where instrumental reciprocity is robust
due to dense social networks.

Contact the respective authors for a copy of the conference paper.