This paper investigates the effects of polling station administrator diversity on elections in India, using a natural experiment—the random assignment of government officials to teams managing stations on election day—together with surveys conducted with voters and election officers. I demonstrate that changes in the religious and caste composition of officer teams impact voting at the polling station level, causing shifts in coalition vote shares large enough to influence election outcomes. Effects are strongest when officers have greater discretion over the voting process. I also provide evidence suggesting own-group favoritism by election personnel as one relevant mechanism.
Yusuf Neggers is a postdoctoral fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He received a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, and also holds an MSc in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics and a BA in Mathematical Economic Analysis from Rice University. His research examines questions at the intersection of development economics and political economy, with a particular focus on the connections between political and bureaucratic accountability and the quality of public services.