Digitalization of the Menu of Manipulation: Electoral Forensics of Russian Gubernatorial Elections
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 30, Number 3, Summer 2022
- pp. 283-304
- Additional Information
To circumvent the uncertainty of (semi-) competitive elections, autocrats can choose from a broad menu of manipulation. To claim legitimacy through elections, these manipulations are hidden and constantly modernized. Digitalization and the provision of online voting are assumed to provide opportunities to complement or replace conventional forms of manipulation. This article addresses the question of whether increased manipulation occurs in e-voting in comparison to conventionally cast ballots in the context of (semi-)competitive elections in authoritarian regimes. Using electoral forensics, reported results in digital and regular districts in Russian gubernatorial elections are analyzed. The results provide evidence for increased fraud in the former and thus undercut any claims that digitalization leads to the increased internal and external legitimacy, inclusiveness, and transparency of elections in authoritarian states.