Field experiment reveals electoral fraud significantly impacted election results in Moscow

Moscow, Feb. 13 (ANI): A large-scale field experiment conducted during the December 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia suggests that fraud had a significant impact on the results. The research marks an advance in efforts to quantify vote fraud.

The researchers, including a visiting research scholar at Princeton University, estimate that fraud accounted for at least 11 percentage points of the vote recorded for the ruling United Russia party in Moscow.

They estimated that the party received at least 635,000 votes in the city as a result of fraud in the election, which resulted in United Russia retaining its majority in parliament.

"We started this just as a project for the public good, and we didn't think about writing an academic paper. But when we saw the effects were so huge we decided that we needed to write about it," Maria Petrova, the UBS Associate Professor of Economics at the New Economic School in Moscow and a visiting research scholar at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics this academic year, said.

The research is described in an article by Ruben Enikolopov, Vasily Korovkin, Petrova, Konstantin Sonin and Alexei Zakharov that appears in the January issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To estimate the level of fraud, the researchers randomly assigned independent observers to monitor ballot-handling and counting procedures at polling stations in Moscow and measured differences in results reported from stations with observers and those without.

According to official results, United Russia received 46.6 percent of the vote in Moscow. The results of the experiment indicate that the presence of observers led to a decrease in the share of votes for the party of 10.8 percentage points and an increase in results for other parties.

The researchers say those differences represent the lower bound for fraud because the figures assume that all electoral fraud was fully prevented by the presence of the observers.

While the results of the experiment can't be applied outside of Moscow, the researchers say the estimates offer hints that electoral fraud was serious enough to change the outcome of the elections.

A change of 5 percentage points in the United Russia totals nationwide would have stripped the party of a majority in the parliament, forcing it to form a governing coalition.

"Until recently, the study of vote fraud was limited to innuendo, anecdotes and rumor - a fact which frustrated scholars and activists alike," said Timothy Frye, the Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy and director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

"Yet in recent years, scholars have made quick progress on this question. At the front edge of this line of research is 'Field Experiment Estimate of Electoral Fraud in the Russian Parliamentary Elections,'" he added.

"Enikolopov, Petrova, and their co-authors use a simple but ingenious method to ferret out one pernicious form of vote fraud - ballot stuffing on Election Day," Frye said.

The experiment, conducted in cooperation with the Russian nongovernmental group Citizen Observer, began with randomly selecting 156 of the city's 3,164 ordinary polling stations to be watched by volunteers from Citizen Observer. To protect the integrity of the experiment, the stations where observers were to be sent were kept secret from government officials and the observers themselves until the last possible moment.

"Observers were sitting at the polling station and they had some basic instruction on what members of the election commission can and cannot do and how the counting should be done," Petrova said, adding: "When they saw something suspicious, they could call the head of their organization or call the police. They also tried to take photos or videos of violations."

Observers in 43 polling stations reported violations serious enough to have significantly compromised the vote count. At 38 stations, observers were not able to get a copy of the official vote count. Observers reported no serious violations at 75 stations.

At many of the polling stations, observers were removed before the end of the voting or vote counting for alleged violations of election rules. But Petrova said some difference in vote totals occurred even if the observers were not allowed to stay for the entire period or intervene when they saw possible fraud.

"We think that maybe the people who were participating in electoral fraud were a little bit afraid when there were observers at the polling stations," Petrova said.

She said the rigorous nature of the experiment, which included careful checks to ensure that the polling stations with observers were otherwise comparable to other polling stations, could help convince some skeptical Russians about the level of electoral fraud.

"I think that for some people, at least, the fact that we have published this paper is a sign that it's not just speculation about electoral fraud or particular instances of electoral fraud but at least for Moscow it's system wide," she said. (ANI)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

As two of the most glamorous sides in the Indian T20 league, the focus of the match between Mumbai and Bangalore will invariably be on the middle-order… More »

BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan, says Manohar

BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan, says Manohar

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »