Introduction to electoral corruption

Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of democracy and the most direct mechanism for citizens to express their political preferences by choosing their governments. However, in many countries, and particularly those where democratic institutions are weaker, corruption poses a serious threat to the legitimacy of electoral processes and outcomes. There are three fundamental ways in which electoral integrity can be undermined[1], namely through vote-buying, abuse of state resources and election rigging.  

Vote-buying occurs when a politician or party provides favours (such as access to public services, resources or preferential treatment) to voters in exchange for consensus, political support, and commitment to vote. Abuse of state resources can encompass any use of publicly owned resources that affects the financing of political parties or of elections in such a way as to favour one party or candidate at the expense of other contestants. Examples of the abuse of state resources range from the use of regulatory power to alter elections laws in favour of a political party or candidate, to the use of government-owned infrastructure and state resources including personnel for election campaign purposes and the manipulation of state owned media[2].  

Election rigging, on the other hand, consists in manipulating electoral outcomes through corrupt practices such as ballot-stuffing, misinforming voters, mis-recording of votes, manipulations of voter’s register and/or manipulation of demographic information (such as altering constituency boundaries).


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