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Partisan Poll Watchers and Electoral Manipulation


How do parties protect themselves from electoral manipulation? To answer this question, we study the drivers of polling station party representatives’ presence and their impact on electoral outcomes in an environment where electoral irregularities are common. Using election data from the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, we find a robust positive correlation between the presence of party representatives and that party’s vote share. The evidence suggests that this correlation can be attributed to party representatives influencing the electoral results. We also formulate a game theoretic model of the levels of representation chosen by parties in a given precinct and structurally estimate its parameters. We find that parties send their representatives where they expect their opponents to send their own. The finding suggests representatives play a primarily protective role, even when they are often involved in irregularities themselves.

Corresponding author
*Sergio J. Ascencio, Post Doctoral Associate, New York University Abu Dhabi,
Miguel R. Rueda, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Emory University,
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Previous versions were presented at the 2015 Electoral Integrity Project Workshop, the 2016 Southern Political Science Association meeting, the Comparative Politics workshop at the Universidad de los Andes, the Political Institutions and Methodology talks at Emory University, the 2016 European Political Science Association meeting, and the 2016 Formal Theory and Comparative Politics conference. We thank the audiences and discussants in those venues for their feedback, and, in particular, Horacio Larreguy, Jerey A. Karp, John Marshall, and Benjamin Marx for their thoughtful comments. We also thank four anonymous referees for outstanding feedback. Finally, we thank Abigail Heller and Montserrat Trujillo for their excellent work as research assistants. All remaining errors are our own. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse:

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Supplementary materials

Ascencio and Rueda Dataset

Supplementary materials

Ascencio and Rueda supplementary material
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