My research interests focus on the politics of non-democratic regimes, with a particular focus on elections in authoritarian and partially democratic countries.  My dissertation investigates principal-agent problems that may arise between political leaders seeking to manipulate elections, and the low-level agents who must actually carry out the tasks necessary to change the results. It address two interrelated questions: Why are some elections manipulated more severely than others, and why do the tactics used to tamper with elections vary both geographically and over time?

Two other projects expand on my interest in electoral manipulation and authoritarian politics. In the first, I study the relationship between authoritarian courts and election integrity. In the second, larger project, I work to better understand the effects of manipulated elections on post-election protest. As part of this latter project, I have conducted survey-experimental work on how the form and severity of election-manipulation efforts affect social-psychological predictors of participation in collective action (such as feelings of anger and efficacy).

Please see below for links to the version of record for peer-revied publications. My Google Scholar profile can be found here.

Book project

  • The Machinery of Manipulation: A comparative analysis of principal-agent relationships and electoral manipulation in Russia, Ukraine, and Mexico

Most modern authoritarian regimes hold elections, which are frequently manipulated. However, the severity of electoral manipulation efforts varies over time and across space. Existing theories fail to fully explain this variation. This project, an expanded version of my dissertation work, addresses this puzzle by emphasizing the role of the low-level agents who actually carry out the work of electoral manipulation. I argue that agents’ incentives are shaped by three factors: the consolidation of patronage resources by the agent’s patron, the local political risks of punishment for the agent, and the type of manipulation the agent engages in. Principal-agent problems are most severe when patronage is unconsolidated and local conditions are risky. When patronage is consolidated, agents are more likely to engage in manipulation, but shift their tactics depending on local risks. When risks are high, agents engage in harder-to-track forms of manipulation like vote-buying; when risks are low, agents are willing to engage in easily traceable techniques like falsification of results. These hypotheses are tested by studying election results over time in three countries—Russia, Ukraine, and Mexico—using statistical analysis of election results, interview data, and a survey experiment.

Sample chapter

Peer-reviewed publications