Electoralfraud is an illegal interference, such as afelonious way of by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, in the process of an election.
The definition of election fraud differsfrom country to country and depends on unique understanding of what is rightand what is wrong, but most of the time election frauds are outlawed inelectoral legislation. They are consideredto be the harassment and assault on the voter’s choice and their hopes for fairoutcome. The term ‘electoral fraud’ covers specificallythose acts which are considered morally unacceptable and which violate theprinciples of democratic elections. Electoralfrauds can be conducted by several parties or candidates who are participating inthe elections, also if the elections have only one candidate with no other option to choose they are sometimes classified as electoralfraud. DanielaDonno and Nasos Roussias in their work “Does Cheating Pay – The Effect ofElectoral Misconduct on Party Systems” examine the effect of electoralmisconduct on party systems in new electoral regimes. Thisarticle examines the effect of electoral misconduct.
They differentiate differentforms of electoral misconduct, they highlight that that pre-election tools, mostly aim to create abiased information, thus spreading falsenews among the voters, to deter their choice; They talk about difference between ballot fraud, which ismore mechanical in it’s manner, and pre-election misconduct. DanielaDonno and Nasos Roussias talk about the post-communist countries and the difficultiesin transition of democratic voting system for them. Mostly a misconduct is away of holding on topower through the election with every possible unfair way existing. Sometimesruling parties use this technique by producing a favorable bias for themselves.Their intent is to create an image that will be accepted by the voters and willhold their interest long enough to go and make a vote. The question thatremains is whether this manipulation actually works and to what extent does itimpact electoral outcomes? Daniela Donno and NasosRoussias state that misconduct influences voter turnout but the institutional consequences of electoralmisconduct remain quite misunderstood. So in their work they address quite aninteresting question whether misconduct reduces the size of party systems?The true effects of electoralmisconduct were largely argued in many political science articles. The standardmodel assumes that elections are free and fair; any party is free to join and register, and create a campaign;that voters can express their choice freely and their votes will be accurately counted.
So it isstrange but true, that the effects of violating this set of estimations stillhave not been thoroughly researched. So Daniela Donno and NasosRoussias are defining this two prospects. Preelection misconduct includes any actions taken beforethe election that aim to restrict political competition and includes any toolthat constrains the ability of opposition party’s get their campaign or messageout or have difficulties in registration.
Some parties assume that the truebattle is conducted before the elections and use every single trick possible tomake sure the chances of wining are as high as possible. This misconduct producesan psychological effect that alters the choices of the voters. The most extremeforms work for discouraging oppositionparties from running by intimidating, sometimes blackmailing, threateningleaders of the participant party and scaring away their supporters by creatingfaux scandals. Some parties don’t even try to participate in the election infear of the ruling party damaging their image and hurting their chance for along term run. I can actually make parallel withGeorgian Parties, especially the National Movement Party, which has been in theposition of power for quite a long time, in the period of Mikheil Saakashvili.Other parties were so terrified of doing or saying anything that wouldotherwise upset the party that it was nearly impossible to see a strong andcompetent political party that would freely oppose the ruling one. Until “GeorgianDream” (??????? ??????)cameto the arena with the help of a never-ending financial support from business savvyBidzina Ivanishvili.
It was interesting to watch how these two major parties opposedeach other and used all the “dirty” tricks to manipulate with the Georgianpeople, who were already exhausted by hopelessness of the situation in thestate. Soas I’ve mentioned above deterrencemechanism is a fear of government retaliation can hurt the successful outcome for the party.Media manipulations are extremely common.
Sometimes it gets really easy to use mediaas a main source of misconduct; voters are given stream of biased politicalinformation. AsDanielaDonno and Nasos Roussias state Ballot Fraud includes any tool used to distort the votingor ballot counting, it produces a direct, “mechanical” effect onthe opposition parties’ vote.Another interesting tactic is violation of the secrecy of the vote, which makesit really easy to monitor voters and punish them in case of a misconduct: notgoing to the election, not making the wanted choice and giving the voice forthe needed party. As a conclusion DanielaDonno and Nasos Roussias say thatelectoral misconducts occurs in both developed and underdeveloped democraticcountries. The factthat misconduct reduces the number of parties suggests the existence of arepresentation gap in countries that hold flawed elections: voters that areforced to choose from a restricted number of parties.