Monday, October 31, 2016

Presidential Power Guest Post

My guest blog post about presidential involvement in the appointment of electoral administrators, focusing on Ukraine, was just published on the Presidential Power Blog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New Research on Election Administration

Two forthcoming articles in the journals Governance and Election Law Journal evaluate election administration during Ukraine's 2014 snap parliamentary elections. Both of them draw from my National Science Foundation grant (SES - 1462110) and the election administrator surveys it supported.

The article in Governance, co-authored with Nazar Boyko and Michael Thunberg, investigates how the lures of professionalization and corruption interact in a bureaucracy featuring temporary civil servants. We demonstrate that aspects of professionalization are present in District Electoral Commissions (DECs) and Precinct Electoral Commissions (PECs) through recruitment and training, and are associated with variation in competency-based activities like completing protocols in a timely manner. These influences coexist with temptations to behave in a biased manner, especially due to side payments that parties provide to their affiliated commissioners. Many of these commissioners acknowledge an implicit quid pro quo in which payments are associated with expectations of better election outcomes for their affiliated parties. In the article, we show how these forces interact and discuss how Ukraine - and other transitional societies - can confront the challenge of professionalizing bureaucracies.

The article in Election Law Journal, co-authored with Nazar Boyko, addresses how administrators face the challenges of implementing elections during violent conflict. We evaluate how institutional, spatial, partisan, and professional factors affect variation in perceptions of readiness, security, and integrity. We find that spatial and capacity-building measures have the most influence on outcomes. Administrators expressed the greatest concerns about elections in the embattled East, but little evidence of "contagion" beyond the East was present. These findings support some of our earlier work using election returns in which we found limited effects beyond the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk, and speak to the success of Ukrainian officials in containing the conflict. We also found that participation in training was associated with better outcomes, suggesting that enhanced professionalization efforts by Ukrainian institutions and the international community can improve readiness, security, and integrity.

Supplementary Material:
1) Online appendix for the Election Law Journal article
2) Survey data for the Governance and Election Law Journal articles.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Local Bosses in Ukraine's Elections

On July 17, 2016, Ukraine will hold by-elections for parliamentary seats in seven districts: DEC 23 (Volyn), DEC 27 (Dnipropetrovsk/Dnipro), DEC 85 (Ivano-Frankivsk), DEC 114 (Luhansk), DEC 151 (Poltava), DEC 183 (Kherson), and DEC 206 (Chernihiv). As Brian Mefford notes in his detailed assessment of each race, candidates with business-sector profiles and oligarchic connections are prominent competitors.

In a forthcoming article in Europe-Asia Studies, Fredrik Sjoberg and I address the connection between business-affiliated candidate and allegations of fraud, using data from the 2012 parliamentary elections. We categorize some business sector candidates as potential "bosses," individuals whose profiles render them more likely to benefit from local political machines. In our analysis, we evaluate whether or not higher levels of competition among bosses is associated with more allegations of bribery, intimidation, or campaign violations using crowdsourced observation data.

We find that more bosses in a race is generally associated with more allegations of vote buying. As the figure below shows, higher levels of bribery are also associated with victory by independent candidates. Regional effects are based on comparisons with the East (Donetsk and Luhansk). Relative to the East, all regions have a negative sign (fewer allegations than in Donbas). But, only the coefficients in the contiguous Eastcentral region and Crimea are statistically significant (Eastcentral at .05 and Crimea at .10). The regional effects may be due to variation in the tactics of fraud, or variation in regional reporting.

Selected Coefficients Associated with Vote Buying
Note: The figure shows coefficients and 95% confidence intervals.
The fall of Viktor Yanukovych and disruption of Party of Regions-affiliated networks has not eliminated political machines. The potential impact of local bosses still looms large in Ukraine's elections, especially in single-member district races.

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Zealand's Flag Referendum

Around a year ago, I had the good fortune to (virtually) meet Ted Kaye, a leading vexillologist and author of the flag design guide Good Flag, Bad Flag. The ongoing New Zealand Flag Referendum prompted a conversation about the intersection between voting and flag design, along with an invitation to publish a short piece in the newsletter of the Portland Flag Association. My note on New Zealand's choice is available online.