Voter Mobilization and Trust in Electoral Institutions: Evidence from Kenya
NBER Working Paper No. 23946
In a large-scale randomized experiment implemented with Kenya’s Electoral Commission in 2013, text messages intended to mobilize voters boosted electoral participation. However, the messages also decreased trust in electoral institutions after the election. This decrease was stronger for individuals on the losing side of the election and in areas that experienced election-related violence. We hypothesize that the mobilization campaign backfired because the Electoral Commission promised a transparent and orderly electoral process but failed to deliver on these expectations. Several potential mechanisms account for the intervention’s unexpected effects, including a simple model where signaling capacity via mobilization messages can negatively affect beliefs about the fairness of the election.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23946
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