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Fraud and Monitoring in Non-competitive Elections*


This article develops a game-theoretic model that reconciles three facts: (1) fraud is pervasive in non-competitive elections, (2) domestic and international monitoring of elections have become nearly universal and (3) incumbent regimes often invite monitoring and still cheat. The incumbent regime commits fraud to manipulate the information generated by a non-competitive election before a political interaction with some audience. The audience expects fraud, so the incumbent commits fraud because she would appear weak if not doing so. Increasing the visibility of fraud with monitoring is valuable because it lowers the equilibrium level of costly fraud without changing how popular the incumbent appears. The core results hold under multiple extensions, which produce a rich set of comparative static results.

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*Andrew Little is Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University, 301 White Hall, Ithaca NY 14853 ( Previous versions of this article were presented at the 2011 Midwest Political Science Association Meeting (with the title “Rational Expectations and Electoral Fraud”), the 2011 Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models Summer Institute at the University of Chicago Harris School, the 2011 American Political Science Association Meeting and the NYU Job Market Paper Workshop. Many thanks to participants in these seminars, as well as Bernd Beber, Tiberiu Dragu, Marko Klašnja, S.P. Harish, James Hollyer, Burt Monroe, Adam Przeworski, Alberto Simpser, Hannah Simpson, Fredrik Sjoberg, Alastair Smith, Mike Tiernay, Dustin Tingley and Josh Tucker for comments and discussion. Supplemental material can be found at
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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
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