SVA Case Decision Database

This database provides an overview of case decisions governing Special Voting Arrangements (SVAs) from countries around the world.

Cases and case categories have been chosen to illustrate some of the common roles that courts and other tribunals at the sub-national, national, or international level may play in the governance of SVAs as part of an overall electoral legal framework.

Some of the common purposes that decisions fulfill include the following: A) Free, Fair, and Universal: Protection of Electoral Rights; B) Legality and Legitimacy of Procedures; C) Abuses and Potential Abuses; D) Threshold Issues in Determining Constitutionality and Legality; E) The Court’s Role in Improving SVAs; F) The Constitutionality of Electoral Postponement in Urgent Circumstances .

More on Special Voting Arrangements

For more details please see the methodology section below

Methodology

Case selection

The database contains a non-representative sample of case decisions. Depending on the jurisdiction and variety of SVAs, some states’ courts and other tribunals may have issued thousands of SVA-related decisions while other jurisdictions may have few or no relevant decisions. 

Feedback and suggestions for additional cases welcome!

This database is a work-in-progress; International IDEA seeks to continually expand and refine the number and types of decisions referenced in this database based on our research and your input. We are explicitly seeking and welcoming more information about decisions not included in the database, and types of decisions involving SVAs that may merit more focus.

The ‘Case Categories’

Case categories have been chosen to illustrate some of the common roles that courts and other tribunals at the sub-national, national, or international level may play in the governance of SVAs as part of an overall electoral legal framework. The Case Category section of the database is an attempt to identify an interesting role that a particular decision may play in the regulation of SVAs. Some of the common purposes that decisions may fulfill include the following:

A) Free, Fair, and Universal: Protection of Electoral Rights – Ensuring that SVAs serve electors without discriminating against or denying the right arbitrarily to some voters.

B) Legality and Legitimacy of Procedures – Emphasizing the importance of SVAs being designed and administered in accordance with the law to promote electoral integrity and confidence.

C) Abuses and Potential Abuses – Addressing violations of rights and electoral laws, by state actors, parties, candidates, voters, or other electoral stakeholders, often to gain an electoral advantage.

D) Threshold Issues in Determining Constitutionality and Legality – These are decisions that stop short of considering the merits of a case because an important precondition for adjudication has not been met. This may include decisions on whether a party has standing to bring a claim, whether there actually is a valid controversy or dispute that can be adjudicated, whether a claim has been brought in good faith, and other reasons.

E) The Court’s Role in Improving SVAs – Assess existing or proposed SVAs to ensure that they are conducted in a manner that does not infringe on the right to vote or other essential rights. Ideally, courts or other tribunals may offer guidance on the conditions necessary to ensure that a future SVA is conducted consistent with electoral rights.

F) The Constitutionality of Electoral Postponement in Urgent Circumstances – For a variety of urgent reasons, states may seek to postpone or reschedule elections to a later date. Courts have been called upon in many states to provide decisions determining whether a postponement or cancellation may or may not be legally permissible and establishing the constitutional limits of the authority of other governmental branches to effect electoral delays. These issues became particularly relevant with the emergence of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Each database entry lists the national or sub-national jurisdiction, the year of the decision, and the court or other body that rendered the decision. Brief information summarizing the decisions and their impacts on SVAs are also included in the chart.

Many of the decisions in this database have been placed in one of the above-mentioned categories to illustrate that unique role but thy may also be appropriately considered within other categories, too. For example, a decision that promotes legality may also address abuse of the process or provide guidance on how to ensure that an SVA is conducted lawfully. These categories are also by no means exhaustive; International IDEA welcomes your input on other categories that we might consider including in this database, as well as any other court or other tribunal decision of interest, as we develop this database further.

 

 

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Disclaimer: Maps presented do not imply on the part of the Institute any judgement on the legal status of any territory or the endorsement of such boundaries, nor does the placement or size of any country or territory reflect the political view of International IDEA. Maps are used in order to add visual clarity to data.