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Social Sciences

Improving institutional performance and reducing election fraud

PI:  Danielle F. Jung, PhD
Assistant Professor
Emory University
Department of Political Science

Despite significant resources from international donors and citizen activism to improve the transparency of election processes and outcomes, poor administrative functioning and corruption within electoral commissions are persistent problems undermining elections in developing countries. Inefficiencies and fraud arise from a lack of quality information for oversight and monitoring, poorly realized incentive structures between middle and lower level management, and illicit attempts by outside actors to alter vote totals. In collaboration with the University of Washington and institutional partnership with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan, this study implements and evaluates “photo quick count” (PQC) audit election monitoring technology at national and institutional scale, in a setting where election processes have been plagued by rampant fraud, violence, and political impasses that stall economic development and prolong conflict. The project aims to improve oversight and monitoring of institutional actors by announcing to middle managers in the IEC (district election managers) that they and their supervisors will get data on agents’ (polling station workers) performance by taking a photo of the local count (their primary duty) and comparing it to the district count to identify any discrepancies or irregularities. The audit announcement is designed to generate better internal accountability and prevent outside influence, by randomizing treatments that vary information diffusion and detection probability and leveraging (non-experimental) heterogeneity in externally provided incentives from clientelism. To detect administrative problems or illegal vote changes in the transmission and aggregation of results tallies (including the possibility of results hacking), PQC provides independent audit data for both measurement and outcome data on polling station and district level performance. The study will further scientific knowledge and the evidence base on tools to bolster institutional performance to improve government effectiveness and accountability in the election process—the cornerstone of democracy.

Refugee Resettlement and Language Use in the Public Space:  A Longitudinal Study into Vienna's Linguistic Landscape

Hiram Maxim, PhD
ECAS: German Studies & Linguistics

According to the 2017 Integration Report by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, there have been close to 130,000 applications for asylum in Austria during the two-year period of 2015-2016, placing it second among the twenty-eight European Union member nations for the highest number of asylum applicants, calculated in terms of applications per 1,000 residents. As the capital, Vienna has been the initial destination for a significant number of the applicants. In order to examine the effect of asylum seekers on the city, over a ten-month period this proposed project will investigate the degree to which the influx of refugees is manifested in the visible and audible texts of the city. Also referred to as the city’s linguistic landscape, these texts range from billboards to graffiti to conversations on the street and have been seen as a particularly telling window into the relations between different language communities. Despite Vienna’s extensive multicultural history, its linguistic landscape remains largely unexamined, and this project will be the first of its kind to investigate language use in public space. Specifically, four different Viennese districts, selected to represent Vienna’s demographic variety, have been identified for regular data gathering over a ten-month period in order to ascertain the degree to which the languages of recently arrived refugee populations are visible and audible. By documenting the presence or absence of minority languages in the Viennese linguistic landscape, the project will be able to reveal how the politics of migration and societal multilingualism is playing out in the public sphere.