The Role of Precinct Commissions in Electoral Manipulation in Russia: Does Party Affiliation Matter?

in Russian Politics
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The occurrence of manipulation in Russian elections is highly uneven not just across regions, but also across precincts. Why do some precinct election commissions take part in manipulation while other commissions stay “clean”? Drawing on a new dataset, this study assesses the impact of the party affiliation of precinct election commission members on electoral manipulation in relation to the 2016 State Duma election. The data reveal that, while the composition of most precinct election commission is diverse, United Russia nominees are vastly overrepresented among commission chairs. The study then finds that commissions with a chairperson nominated by United Russia significantly more often reported anomalously high turnout and United Russia vote share than commissions without a United Russia chair. Surprisingly, this is also true for nominees of the other State Duma parties, especially if nominees from these parties jointly with nominees from United Russia occupy the leading positions in the commission. This suggests that nominees from United Russia and other State Duma parties collude to deliver election results that are favorable to the regime.

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