Electoral management bodies (EMBs) are increasingly expected to engage in the systemic management of electoral risks. Yet civil society organizations’ (CSOs) role in broader efforts to prevent and mitigate electoral risks remains vaguely understood. International IDEA experiences and lessons learned in 2020 offer practical evidence and inspiration.
Since the global launch of International IDEA’s Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMTool) in 2013, the Institute has supported over 20 EMBs worldwide in implementing the methodology. In 2020, the focus of the Electoral Conflict and Risk Management project was strengthening CSOs to contribute to national efforts to prevent and mitigate electoral risks.
In North Macedonia, the Centre for Good Governance and Integrity-HUB approached International IDEA for knowledge resources, training and advisory support. The HUB established an exchange of information with political parties and the State Election Commission (SEC) to identify areas in which joint activities should take place to prevent electoral anomalies. The HUB conducted surveys before and after election day, analysed data using ERMTool’s software and continuously shared reports, in the form of risk alerts and recommendations, with the SEC. At the end of the project, the HUB transferred the risk and action register to the SEC to use in future elections.
In Kyrgyzstan, the Center for Strategic Analysis, Dialogue and Development in Central Asia used the ERMTool to analyse risks related to the rights of voters and candidates, freedom and access to the media during the pre-election period. Election day monitoring also took Covid-19 risks into account. The Electoral Processes team also worked closely with International IDEA’s Africa and West Asia Programme to introduce the ERMTool to a group of Ugandan CSOs, which increased their interest in engaging on the topic. Furthermore, the two teams customized ERMTool-related guides on internal and external risk factors to electoral processes in the G5 Sahel Region.
In 2020, a record number of 92 organizations applied for the ERMTool’s software download key. Determined to strengthen its support to democracy practitioners who face ever-increasing risks in organizing elections, International IDEA provided open access to ERMTool source codes. With this initiative, the Institute encourages users to customize the instrument to their needs and to share any improvements with their peers.