How do electoral authoritarian autocrats choose strategies for manipulating elections? Most scholars assume that autocrats strategize all electoral manipulation from above, with local regime agents charged with carrying out these top-down strategies. In contrast, a few assume that local regime agents strategize all electoral manipulation from the bottom up. More likely, reality lies in between. To make this point, I build an argument for how autocrats might configure the distribution of decisions over electoral manipulation among regime agents. I argue that autocrats delegate decisions about electoral manipulation to local regime agents in core regime districts –to ensure aggregate support –and to regime agents in recently marginal regime districts –to ensure territorial control. In contrast, autocrats determine strategies in long-timemarginal districts and in those turned adverse to the regime. Statistical analysis of a unique political reform in one state in electoral authoritarian Mexico –where autocrats transferred the authority to restrict political rights and the secret ballot to some pro-regime agents but not to all –supports the argument. It also reinforces the proposition that wholly centralized/decentralized decision-making about electoral manipulation only occurs under specific political conditions, undermining the empirical validity of these assumptions in current research
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