Election Violence


The Logic of Insurgent Electoral Violence

w. Luke N. Condra, James D. Long, Andrew C. 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. Counterfactual exercises provide potentially actionable insights for safeguarding at-risk elections and enhancing electoral legitimacy in emerging democracies. 


Latest draft here.



Electoral Institutions and Attacks on Critical Infrastructure

w. Rebecca Lordan-Perret, Peter Burgherr, Matteo Spada, Robert Rosner

Research on electoral violence has demonstrated that insurgents carry out intense, violent attacks against people close to elections to deter or influence voters and that these tactics are successful in undermining democratic processes. We analyze a novel dataset of attacks on energy infrastructure in Colombia to show that attacks on critical electricity infrastructure are also timed to disrupt elections and have the potential to affect a larger population. We find that the likelihood of an attack on electricity trans- mission lines and substations increased by 34% in the lead up to election months and that the number of attacks increased by 37% during election months. We further find these attacks are correlated with reduced voter turnout, indicating that infrastructure attacks may undermine participation in electoral institutions.


Latest draft here. Online appendix here.


Insurgent attacks increase significantly during early morning hours of election days in Afghanistan.


Infrastructure attacks increase just before election months in Colombia.