APCG Best Article 2022
Committee Members: Marijke Breuning (University of North Texas, Chair), Hakeem Onapajo
(Nile University, Abuja), Mike Omilusi (Ekiti State University)
Winner: Elizabeth Wellman (University of Memphis) for her article “Emigrant Inclusion in Home Country Elections: Theory and Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa,” published in the American Political Science Review (2021, volume 115, issue 1, pp. 82-96).
Dr. Wellman’s article, “Emigrant Inclusion in Home Country Elections: Theory and Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa,” notes that 32of 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have legally adopted voting rights for citizens living abroad, but that their turnout varies. To explain this, the article’s theory focuses on de facto emigrant voter access to the ballot box. Employing an original dataset of African elections, the article shows that low diaspora turnout is the result of restricted access. The article furthermore demonstrates a positive and statistically significant relationship between emigrant voter access and diaspora support for the incumbent party in the home country.
The article leverages a rich command of the relevant literature to presents a carefully argued theory. The mechanism is illustrated with a case study of South Africa and then systematically tested with the aid of an original dataset (1990-2015). The article shows that the implementation of diaspora enfranchisement varies not only across the countries that have legalized it, but also across the elections of specific countries. Dr. Wellman concludes that the partisan interests of the incumbent party drive de facto enfranchisement of emigrant voters.
The article’s theory innovates, and the rigorous and extensive analysis contributes substantially to the study of electoral democracy in Africa.