Electoral fraud and voter turnout: An experimental study. European Journal of Political Economy, vol. 58, pp. 203-219
In this paper we experimentally investigate the consequences of electoral fraud on voter turnout. The experiment is based on a strategic binary voting model where voters decide whether to cast a costly vote in favour of their preferred candidate or to abstain. The electoral process is illicitly influenced, by applying ballot-box stuffing. In the experiment we implement two different framings: we compare voter turnout in a neutral environment and with framed instructions to explicitly replicate elections. This approach enables us to both test the model’s predictions and to estimate the framing effects of voting and fraud. Comparison of experimental results with theoretical predictions reveals over-voting, which is exacerbated when fraud occurs. Turnout increases as predicted with a moderate level of fraud while, with higher levels of electoral fraud, voters fail to recognize that the existence of a relatively larger number of agents voting with certainty considerably decreases the benefits of voting. Importantly, framing matters, as revealed by the higher turnout of those in the majority group, against which the fraud is applied.