Election Officer Identity and Voter Behavior
Upholding election integrity is especially difficult in the developing world, where administrative capacity and institutional strength tend to be weaker. While advances in monitoring and voting technologies have been shown to improve the functioning of elections, the potential importance of the remaining interactions between government officials and voters on election day is not as well understood. Leveraging an existing policy in the Indian state of Bihar in which state employees are randomly assigned to manage polling stations on election day, the first stage of this project identified significant shifts in vote shares toward the political parties traditionally associated with the religious and caste identities of election officers. I next propose to employ officer and voter surveys with experimental modules to determine whether these impacts are primarily driven by: i) explicit malfeasance, ii) biased behavior in discretionary duties, or iii) identity priming of voters. The extent to which behavioral characteristics of voters mediate these effects will additionally be examined.