Voters in the Bihar region of North India remain in large part unaware of their candidates’ backgrounds. This is due in large part to the region being a “hotbed of criminal politics,” and corruption, as well as the lack of information provided leading to the frequent re-election of “bad incumbents.” This study attempts to test what various types of informational interventions–and the various types of politically relevant individuals that may be the bearers of this information– can do to increase accountability against “criminal types.”
Intervention Date: Fall 2015, during state-level elections
Information will be disseminated to a varying percentage of voters in the polling booth area (0%, 25% or 75%), in the context of a door-to-door campaign performed by enumerators from our implementing partner. The information provided to voters is about all candidates in the constituency and focuses on ongoing charges for financial crimes faced by candidates in the constituency (we focus on criminal charges that may have led to a net loss to the exchequer). Although a flyer is also provided to voters as part of the campaign, enumerators summarize the information to voters. An alternative arm will test the effect of a door-to-door campaign, where an individual will visit every household in the polling booth area and attempt to communicate in person the relevant information to all those voters present. Given the different formats and percentage of voters informed, what are simple and promising ways in which informational interventions could be improved and adapted in the Indian context?
- Many voters already know about the criminal charges that candidates face but choose not to punish them, either because they view this information as relatively unimportant or because they value criminality.