The sample for the study was composed of 250 villages–each with an average population of roughly 1,000 people–selected from ten districts spanning northern, northeastern, eastern, central, and western Afghanistan (southern areas were excluded due to security concerns). Half of the villages was randomly assigned to hold district elections and the other half to hold at-large elections. Under district elections, the village was split into geographically-defined districts and each villager could only vote for a single candidate residing in the same district.
In the initial stage of the nationwide field experiment, the researchers held a series of public lotteries to select the Members of Parliament (MPs) who would be treated and receive access to the uSpeak system - a platform that allowed MPs to log onto a dashboard where they could read tagged SMS messages from constituents, reply, and see simple descriptive statistics about the messages they received, such as what the priority issues in their constituency were within a selected time-frame.
To test the ways in which politicians influence public opinion, the authors conduct two studies. The structures of the two studies are nearly identical. The authors partner with state legislators in a Midwestern state and identify contentious policy positions that they hold (support for tax increases or support for undocumented immigrants, for example). Next, they conduct interviews with a randomly selected sample of constituents to identify their opinions on these issues.
In the lead-up to the 2014 elections, Green and Vasudevan hired an Indian agency to script and record advertisements to discourage voting for vote-buying parties. The advertisements were skits in which actors discussed why vote-buying politicians were untrustworthy and unlikely to make good on their promises. The 60-second spots were recorded in Hindi and four regional languages (Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, and Telugu). The authors chose 60 AIR stations covering 665 ACs in ten states.
For this study an informational campaign was delivered to women in a sample of villages two weeks prior to the 2008 national election in Pakistan with randomization at the level of within-village geographical clusters.