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.