Monitors and Meddlers: How Foreign Actors Influence Local Trust in Elections

Book Talks

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Featuring Sarah Bush, Assoc. Prof., Yale and Lauren Prather, Assoc. Prof., UCSD

Thursday, April 13, 2023
12:30 PM (Pacific Time)

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"This is a must read for policy makers, practitioners, and scholars of democracy, who want to know the potentials, limits, and possible negative consequences of international support for democratic elections."- Stephen John Stedman, Senior Fellow, Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, Stanford University

Foreign influences on elections are widespread. Although foreign interventions around elections differ markedly - in terms of when and why they occur, and whether they are even legal - they all have enormous potential to influence citizens in the countries where elections are held. Bush and Prather explain how and why outside interventions influence local trust in elections, a critical factor for democracy and stability. Whether foreign actors enhance or diminish electoral trust depends on who is intervening, what political party citizens support, and where the election takes place. The book draws on diverse evidence, including new surveys conducted around elections with varying levels of democracy in Georgia, Tunisia, and the United States. Its insights about public opinion shed light on why leaders sometimes invite foreign influences on elections and why the candidates that win elections do not do more to respond to credible evidence of foreign meddling.



Order Monitors and Meddlers: How Foreign Actors Influence Local Trust in Elections from Cambridge University Press.



Sarah Bush is an Associate Professor (on Term) of Political Science at Yale University. Prior to starting at Yale, Bush taught at Temple University and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University in 2011.

Bush is the author or coauthor of two books, The Taming of Democracy Assistance: Why Democracy Promotion Does Not Confront Dictators (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Monitors and Meddlers: How Foreign Actors Influence Local Trust in Elections (Cambridge University Press, 2022). In addition to her research on international influences on elections and democracy, she is conducting research on the role of non-governmental organizations in world politics and the origins of gender differences in climate attitudes worldwide. This research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Her work is published or forthcoming in journals such as International Organization, American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Politics. She has also written for outlets including,, and The Conversation.


Lauren Prather is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego in the School of Global Policy and Strategy. She is the author of numerous journal articles and a recent Cambridge UP book entitled Monitors and Meddlers: How Foreign Actors Influence Local Trust in Elections. Her work focuses on political behavior in international relations, democracy promotion and democratization, foreign aid and migration, and experimental methods.





Leslie Johns is a professor of political science and law at UCLA. She is also Associate Director of the Burkle Center for International Relations.

Her research focuses on international law, organizations, and political economy.

In 2022, Cambridge University Press published her newest book, Politics and International Law: Making, Breaking, and Upholding Global Rules. You can access related news stories on the book's Twitter account: @PoliticsIntlLaw

Her work appears in the American Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Conflict Resolution and the Journal of Politics. Her first book–Strengthening International Courts: The Hidden Costs of Legalization–was published in 2015 by the University of Michigan Press. She received the Michael Wallerstein Award for political economy in 2017.

She is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former research fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University (2012-2013 and 2021-2022).

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Sponsor(s): Burkle Center for International Relations, Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Political Science, UCLA Law, Safeguarding Democracy Project