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Hitting Them With Carrots: Voter Intimidation and Vote Buying in Russia

  • Timothy Frye, Ora John Reuter and David Szakonyi

Scholars have identified many ways that politicians use carrots, such as vote buying, to mobilize voters, but have paid far less attention to how they use sticks, such as voter intimidation. This article develops a simple argument which suggests that voter intimidation should be especially likely where vote buying is expensive and employers have greater leverage over employees. Using survey experiments and crowd-sourced electoral violation reports from the 2011–12 election cycle in Russia, the study finds evidence consistent with these claims. Moreover, it finds that where employers have less leverage over employees, active forms of monitoring may supplement intimidation in order to encourage compliance. These results suggest that employers can be reliable vote brokers; that voter intimidation can persist in a middle-income country; and that, under some conditions, intimidation may be employed without the need for active monitoring.

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Political Science Department, Columbia University (email:; Political Science Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (email:; Political Science Department, George Washington University (email: All three authors are affiliated with the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development located in Moscow, Russia. The research was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and supported within the framework of a subsidy granted to the HSE by the Government of the Russian Federation for the implementation of the Global Competitiveness Program. Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: and online appendices are available at

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Supplementary materials

Frye et al. Dataset

Supplementary materials

Frye et al. supplementary material
Frye et al. supplementary material 1

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