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July 18, 2012


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I broadly agree with your points (though the minimum figure to win could potentially be as low as 1.6 million votes, bit.ly/M9nElx), and I share your concerns about (4), (5) and (6).

Number (4) turns out not to be as important as reported by Alianza Cívica, but there is good evidence of a strong social desirability bias in previous survey responses (a striking example from the 2009 election: "Sólo el 9.1% de los votantes reportó haber recibido personalmente un regalo o favor a cambio del voto, mientras que el 28.7% reportó haber visto a los partidos comprando votos en su comunidad. En contraste, el experimento de lista revela que el 38.1% de los encuestados recibió un regalo o favor a cambio de su voto," bit.ly/RXPTa3).

Of course, the burden of proof is on the leftist parties (after all, those figures for '09 and the A.C. report are for all parties), but I don't think it's completely inplausible that the election was bought by the PRI through, in your terms, immoral means.

Hi, Francisco! Thank you for both links. I agree completely with the criticisms levied by Tolga Sinmazdemir at the first link. In fact, reducing the number of votes needed to win from 3.2 million to 1.6 million is the "arithmetic mistake" that I referred to above. I'm glad that somebody else caught it! Sinmazdemir, though, points out that the number could actually be as high as 6.4 million, depending on the counterfactual. I hadn't thought that through.

The Osorio paper is fascinating. I need to think more about it. If we take the numbers more seriously, we'd get that vote-buying could have swung at least 1.5% of the vote: the 9.1% of voters who reported vote-buying attempts × the 16% success rate from the Argentine study. That is significant.

What I'm not sure I fully understand is the estimation that 38% of voters were on the receiving end of vote-buying. That would imply a swing of 6.1% -- a huge number, and very close to the election's 6.7% margin.

Any thoughts on the paper? The link is: http://www.nd.edu/~fosorioz/Papers/Osorio_FEPADE_2010.pdf.

In my understanding, Osorio attempts to estimate the "true" figure of gift-receiving in 2009, given that voters would not be willing to answer the question honestly. The 9.1% comes from the direct and arguably unreliable answer. The 38.1% comes from his list experiment, where the mean number of electoral activities (out of a total of four) in a control group is compared to a randomly assigned treatment, which has only the additional option of gift-receiving (p 142-143).

This is for 2009, so assuming the estimation is correct and taking just the "social desirability" bias as a constant ratio (at 38.1/9.1 = 4.19), the 1.7% from the Alianza Cívica report hides a "true" figure of roughly 7.1% of gift-receiving in this election. With the 16% success rate this becomes 1.3%, not enough to have decided the election even under Sinmazdemir's lower bound. Quite big, but not large enough.

So, given the Osorio/Alianza Cívica estimates, unless the success rate of vote buying was higher than 47% (to go from 7.1% of gift-receivers to at least 3.3% of votes effectively bought, equivalent to the 1.6 million figure), I stand corrected, and the buying of the election appears farfetched.

It doesn't matter anymore. TRIFE legalized vote buying on July 18.

You mean this?


Vote-buying is seen anywhere around the globe. It is a disease far more than cancer. You cannot find a panacea that everyone has been dreaming of. There simple acts are also considered vote-buying. Although they cannot notice it.

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