Electoral manipulation is committed both during hotly contested elections as well as quite predictable ones. Comparative scholarship has sought to understand this variation, acknowledging that electoral manipulation can serve an informational as well as an instrumental role, but has not distinguished when, if ever, electoral manipulation is more likely to serve one role over another. This paper examines these issues, asking if and how strategies of manipulation differ depending on the conditions of the election. Using a newly developed measure of contestation and original data on elections from ten post-Soviet states, this paper quantitatively analyzes the types of strategies used depending on election-level factors. The results reveal that incumbents are likely to select some, but not all, types of manipulation depending on contestation of the election, the level of incumbent dominance, and the type of election being held. This paper concludes that while electoral manipulation can be used for instrumental and informational purposes, they are likely to be pursued in different elections, and that this depends on the conditions of the elections.
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