Election Violence

The Logic of Insurgent Electoral Violence [with Luke Condra, James Long, Andrew Shaver]

Competitive elections are essential to establishing the political legitimacy of democratizing regimes. We argue that armed actors undermine the state’s mandate through electoral violence. We theorize when and where insurgents attack around elections. We test the argument using newly declassified microdata on the conflict in Afghanistan. Our data tracks insurgent activity by hour, to within meters of attack locations. Our results demonstrate that insurgents carefully calibrate their production of violence in and around elections. Leveraging a novel instrumental variables approach, we find these tactics effectively depress voting. Our results provide important insights for safeguarding at-risk elections in emerging democracies.

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