Election Fraud

Election Fraud: Detecting and Deterring Electoral Manipulation

R. Michael Alvarez
Thad E. Hall
Susan D. Hyde
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 255
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wpf99
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  • Book Info
    Election Fraud
    Book Description:

    Allegations of fraud have marred recent elections around the world, from Russia and Italy to Mexico and the United States. Such charges raise fundamental questions about the quality of democracy in each country. Yet election fraud and, more broadly, electoral manipulation remain remarkably understudied concepts. There is no consensus on what constitutes election fraud, let alone how to detect and deter it. Election Fraud: Detecting and Deterring Electoral Manipulationbrings together experts on election law, election administration, and U.S. and comparative politics to address these critical issues. The first part of the book, which opens with an essay by Craig Donsanto of the U.S. Department of Justice, examines the U.S. understanding of election fraud in comparative perspective. In the second part of the book, D. Roderick Kiewiet, Jonathan N. Katz, and other scholars of U.S. elections draw on a wide variety of sources, including survey data, incident reports, and state-collected fraud allegations, to measure the extent and nature of election fraud in the United States. Finally, the third part of the book analyzes techniques for detecting and potentially deterring fraud. These strategies include both statistical analysis, as Walter R. Mebane, Jr. and Peter Ordeshook explain, and the now widespread practice of election monitoring, which Alberto Simpser examines in an intriguing essay.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0160-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Paul DeGregorio and Ray Martinez

    In November of 2000, like millions of other Americans, we sat riveted while watching election officials in Florida recount presidential ballots. We closely followed the ensuing litigation and, ultimately, the decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court that decided the presidential contest. We then watched as advocates, academics, and election officials alike were summoned to briefings and hearings by Congress over a two-year period to discuss reforms to fix the real and perceived deficiencies.

    On October 27, 2002, Congress passed the most sweeping election administration reform bill in the history of the country, now well known by its...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Studying Election Fraud
    (pp. 1-18)
    R. Michael Alvarez, Thad E. Hall and Susan D. Hyde

    In 2006 alone, significant allegations of election fraud surrounded presidential elections in Italy, Mexico, and several former Soviet republics. In the United States, concerns have been raised regarding all aspects of elections, from voter registration fraud to voting machine security, especially since the 2000 presidential election, when accusations of electoral manipulation in Florida were heard around the world. The potential for election fraud overshadows elections in all election-holding countries, even long-established democracies.

    Investigations by journalists, academics, lawyers, political parties, official nonpartisan observers, and interested citizens have drawn attention to cases of clear-cut voting fraud in many countries around the world,...

  6. Part One Defining Election Fraud:: The United States in Comparative Perspective
    • one Corruption of the Election Process under U.S. Federal Law
      (pp. 21-36)
      Craig C. Donsanto

      Election fraud can be viewed as a purely legal phenomenon. In this context, election fraud is whatever is defined in the law as such, though its definition can change as the social, political, and technological aspects of elections change. For example, you cannot have election fraud in the voter registration process until after states have adopted and developed voter registration requirements and lists. Even once voter registration systems are developed, the laws that govern fraud may change over time as conditions and technologies change.

      In this chapter, I focus on election fraud as defined under federal law. These laws are...

    • two International Principles for Election Integrity
      (pp. 37-49)
      Thad E. Hall and Tova Andrea Wang

      Election fraud, as currently defined, was a routine occurrence in the early history of the United States. George Washington won an election in colonial Virginia in part by spending lavishly on alcohol for voters on election day, and his fellow Founding Father, James Madison, lost an election in Virginia in part because he refused to spend money on such things. These were not isolated instances. Balloting in the early and mid-1800s was rife with potential for manipulation. Elections were not conducted on secret ballots, which raised concerns about voter intimidation and vote buying. The use of paper ballots and the...

    • three Beyond Election Fraud: Manipulation, Violence, and Foreign Power Intervention
      (pp. 50-68)
      Gamze Çavdar

      As multiparty competition has expanded to many parts of the world, the challenge of ensuring the integrity and quality of elections is no longer limited to well-established and newly emerging democracies. Elections now take place in ever more challenging environments, including territories under military occupation. These cases raise important questions about our understanding of election fraud and election integrity, as well as our understanding of the role that elections play in a community’s political life. To explore these questions, this chapter analyzes the Iraqi parliamentary elections, which were held in late 2005, and the Palestinian parliamentary elections, which were held...

  7. Part Two Measuring Election Fraud:: Learning from Observational Data
    • four Measuring Perceptions of Election Threats: Survey Data from Voters and Elites
      (pp. 71-88)
      R. Michael Alvarez and Thad E. Hall

      In the United States since the 2000 election there have been concerns raised regarding electoral irregularities—either intentional election fraud or unintentional problems in the election that result in an inaccurate (and thus sometimes in the eyes of the losing side, fraudulent) outcome.¹ The ongoing debate about the security of electronic voting technologies reflects one aspect of this debate. Concerns have also been raised about fraud in absentee voting, early voting, precinct voting, and voting by military personnel and overseas civilians (UOCAVA voters named for the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act), that are all unrelated to the type...

    • five Caught in the Act: Recent Federal Election Fraud Cases
      (pp. 89-98)
      Delia Bailey

      Since the 2000 election, election fraud has entered into discussions of election reform at an increasing rate—be these discussions within the academic community, among politicians, in the mainstream media, or in the blogosphere. Yet there is little empirical research on the extent and nature of recent election fraud in the United States. In this chapter, I seek to address this issue by examining election fraud cases that were prosecuted under federal law from 2000 to 2005. This analysis provides new information about the frequency, nature, and targets (federal or local races) of election fraud in the United States. In...

    • six Correlates of Fraud: Studying State Election Fraud Allegations
      (pp. 99-111)
      R. Michael Alvarez and Frederick J. Boehmke

      Maintaining the integrity of the electoral process is a fundamental goal of election administrators in democracies around the world. If questions arise about the integrity of an election, the legitimacy of the subsequent governing regime can—and often is—undermined. Thus election administrators have developed systems to monitor and protect the integrity of the democratic electoral process. Despite these protections, claims about significant election

      We wish to thank Alex Chang for his assistance with data collection. We also thank John Mott-Smith and Gillian Underwood, and the California Secretary of State’s Office for providing us with access to the data we...

    • seven Fraud or Failure? What Incident Reports Reveal about Election Anomalies and Irregularities
      (pp. 112-129)
      D. Roderick Kiewiet, Thad E. Hall, R. Michael Alvarez and Jonathan N. Katz

      When things go wrong in elections involving direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting technology, these episodes are viewed by many as proof of the vulnerability, or at least the unreliability, of these systems. Claims by election officials that such problems are “par for the course” in elections or symptomatic of “growing pains” associated with implementing a new technology ring false to many Americans who expect elections to be run without error every time. To date, however, each side in the debate has been able to rely on only limited data and scant research. DRE technology has only recently been introduced on a...

    • eight Identifying and Preventing Signature Fraud on Ballot Measure Petitions
      (pp. 130-146)
      Todd Donovan and Daniel A. Smith

      Most studies of election fraud focus on what happens once voters try to cast their ballots. However, important forms of fraud can also occur before election day. In this chapter, we focus on one such form of fraud: the forging of signatures in order to place an initiative or referendum on a statewide ballot. After providing some background on the business of signature gathering and assessing the incentives for fraud, we analyze the incidence of signature fraud for measures on the ballot in Washington State between 1990 and 2006. We also examine in detail the validity of the more than...

  8. Part Three Detecting Election Fraud:: Techniques and Consequences
    • nine The Case of the 2002 General Election
      (pp. 149-161)
      R. Michael Alvarez and Jonathan N. Katz

      By its very nature, election fraud—which we define as efforts to use illegal means to alter election outcomes—should be difficult to detect. After all, given that documented evidence of election fraud is highly likely to result in legal action and criminal penalties, agents committing fraud have very strong incentives to cover their tracks. Perhaps the reason we do not observe widespread empirical evidence of election fraud in the United States is that the perpetrators cover their tracks sufficiently to make it difficult to observe and prosecute.

      But decades of theoretical and empirical social science research have shown that...

    • ten Election Forensics: The Second-Digit Benford’s Law Test and Recent American Presidential Elections
      (pp. 162-181)
      Walter R. Mebane Jr.

      Arguably we are not much closer than we were one hundred years ago to understanding how to administer elections that not only are secure and fair but are widely believed to be secure and fair. As long as there have been elections there have been election scandals, and certainly throughout the history of the United States.¹ Notoriously, serious defects in election administration produced the wrong outcome in the 2000 American election for president.² These events sparked a rush to replace older mechanical voting technologies with machines based on electronic computers. Some states made such changes on their own, notably Florida.³...

    • eleven On the Trail of Fraud: Estimating the Flow of Votes between Russia’s Elections
      (pp. 182-200)
      Mikhail Myagkov, Peter C. Ordeshook and Dimitry Shaikin

      Although the outcome of Russia’s 2004 presidential election was never in doubt, the balloting nonetheless yielded surprises. For example, in Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, ostensibly 98 percent of the eligible electorate voted, with 96 percent supporting the winner and incumbent Vladimir Putin. Even higher numbers were officially registered in various parts of Tatarstan, Dagestan, Mordovia, Adigeya, Chechnya, Bashkiria, Karachaevo-Cherkessya, and North Ossetia. Of course, no one questions that Putin’s 71 percent share of the vote was a decisive reflection of his popularity. Yet we should ask whether such numbers are consistent with previous voting patterns. And if they are not, do...

    • twelve How International Election Observers Detect and Deter Fraud
      (pp. 201-215)
      Susan D. Hyde

      International monitoring of elections is intended to promote democracy by providing an independent evaluation of whether a given election was democratic, detecting fraud when it exists, deterring fraud, and increasing voter confidence in the electoral process.¹ How do international observers accurately detect election fraud, particularly when election manipulators have the incentive to conceal their activities from observers? Do international observers have the ability to reduce election fraud? The goal of this chapter is to shed light on these questions. I first review the challenges international observers face in judging the quality of elections and then outline current best practices for...

    • thirteen Unintended Consequences of Election Monitoring
      (pp. 216-234)
      Alberto Simpser

      As elections have spread to most of the world’s countries, organized efforts by nongovernmental groups and international organizations to discourage cheating have become the norm.¹ The centerpiece of such efforts, election monitoring, seeks to change the behavior of would-be cheaters, specifically to prevent cheating by rendering it more risky and more costly, ideally, prohibitively so. When cheating can be verified, for instance, redress becomes more plausible, rendering cheating a riskier proposition. But monitoring does not always succeed at discouraging cheating: it can also induce the monitored party to resort to means of manipulating elections that are more difficult to scrutinize.²...

  9. Conclusion: Understanding Election Fraud
    (pp. 235-242)
    R. Michael Alvarez, Thad E. Hall and Susan D. Hyde

    Our intention when we decided to hold a small conference on election fraud and then organize the contributions from that conference into this edited volume was to kindle scholarly research on a subject we think is academically and politically important. A common frustration for academics who have been involved in election reform activities in recent years is the lack of hard empirical data on election fraud. We have a difficult time answering even basic questions about election fraud: What types of election fraud exist? What factors explain the variation in election fraud across time and space? And perhaps most important,...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 243-244)
  11. Index
    (pp. 245-256)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-257)