Getting a seat at the (electoral) table: Partisan poll workers and electoral bias

04 October 2023, Version 5
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Does the partisanship of poll workers affect electoral outcomes? Many countries use partisan and adversarial vote-counting systems where poll workers are party representatives and mutual control is expected to provide fairness. Yet in countries with dominant party regimes, parties often have de facto unequal capacities to send representatives to all booths. Analyzing the 2018 general elections in Paraguay, we estimate that partisan poll workers decrease an opposing party's vote share by up to 2 percentage points (pp) and increase theirs by up to 1 pp. Our analyses also demonstrate how incentives for electoral manipulation vary by electoral system. Dominant parties' partisan poll workers collude against smaller parties more often in proportional representation races. In contrast, single-winner plurality voting yields less collusion because the winner-take-all aspect of these races make collusion difficult. Our results have practical implications for politicians and policymakers, as well as theoretical implications for elections in developing democracies.


Quasi natural experiment
Electoral integrity
Electoral irregularities
Election administration
Election fraud
Electoral accountability


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.