Book Project

Electoral Commissions & Democratization in Africa: Everyday Production of Democratic Legitimacy

Why do some countries hold elections that meet global democratic standards, while other countries do not? Electoral Commissions and Democratization in Africa makes a novel contribution to this question. In a departure from the typical story about the “boring” administrative tasks that electoral commissions carry out and their impact on international observers’ assessments of election quality, the book’s core argument is that electoral commissions provide valuable information that helps politicians and citizens resolve uncertainties about electoral fraud and administrative irregularities.

By serving an informational role, electoral commissions influence how citizens and elites think about and behave during elections. This includes whether political actors participate in elections, engage in electoral fraud and violence, accept electoral outcomes, and express confidence in elections. These attitudes and behaviors, in turn, influence whether elections meet democratic standards (i.e. election quality) and whether political elites and citizens regard election processes as acceptable (i.e. election legitimacy). The book brings together evidence from public opinion surveys, elite surveys, field research, and cross-national databases to give an unusually rich empirical exploration of the dynamics of elections and democracy in Africa since the 1990s with a focused case study of Nigeria.