Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

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Mollie J. Cohen | How Partisan Poll Watchers Affect Citizen Confidence in Elections

Event Type
Department of Political Science; CLACS
David Kinley Hall, 404
Feb 2, 2024   12:00 pm  
Mollie J. Cohen (Political Science, Purdue University)

Join CLACS and the Department of Political Science in welcoming Dr. Mollie J. Cohen (Political Science, Purdue University) for her talk "How Partisan Poll Watchers Affect Citizen Confidence in Elections" 

Around the world, partisan poll watchers observe as elections are conducted and votes tallied. In theory, poll watchers safeguard the integrity of the franchise by ensuring that votes are fairly counted and contesting any irregularities in real time. By protecting parties’ ability to compete on a level playing field, partisan poll watchers should also bolster citizen confidence in the franchise when they are present. Yet, because partisan poll watchers sometimes alter election outcomes, they may raise voters’ suspicion and ultimately decrease their confidence in elections. This paper assesses the effect of partisan poll watchers on voters’ confidence in elections using data from a survey experiment and exit poll conducted in Peru. We find that voters are, on average, more trusting of elections where partisan poll watchers are present. However, voters express less trust of elections where a single poll watcher represents their least preferred party. This project has important implications for voters’ beliefs about electoral fairness in the short term and, in the longer term, the legitimacy and stability of democracy. 

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