Electoral Risk Management Tool


logo ERM Tool

The Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMTool) is designed to empower people to ensure peaceful and credible elections. Intended users are electoral management bodies, security sector agencies, civil society and other state and non-state actors. The ERMTool aims to build the user’s capacity to understand, analyze, and mitigate electoral risks.

The ERMTool can build users' capacity to understand electoral risk factors, collect and analyze risk data, design prevention and mitigation strategies, and record the results of actions. The tool consists of three integrated parts.

A knowledge library describes in detail 36 electoral risk factors, both internal and external to electoral processes. An analytical instruments section allows users to create analytical models specific to a country or election, upload data to generate risk maps and trend charts, and create a register of risks and actions. The prevention module consists of a digital library with approximately 100 action points intended to inspire user in designing strategies to prevent and mitigate electoral risks, including election-related violence, at the different phases of the electoral cycle.


What is the ERM tool?

To obtain a copy of the ERMTool's software, you need to register prior interest with International IDEA. A genuine and non-for-profit organization will be granted a download key upon the submission of request.

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Open access to Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERM Tool) source codes.   (Read more)

Version 7 of the ERMTool is available with:

  • New mapping engine (Think Geo)
  • NET framework (version 4.5)
  • Improved Win 8/10 compatibility
  • In addition to English, menus are now available in: Arabic, French, Nepali, Myanmar, Russian, Spanish and Thai languages
  • Better user experience and
  • Improved mapping – speed and map import/handling
  • Regional and world level models can be created
  • Cumulative factors accept decimal numbers
  • The app is compatible with all special characters. 
  • Improved KML export functionalities that allows choosing a folder/name
  • ‘Add Factor’ and ‘Modify factor’ options are simplified
  • Mapping and Charting menus can be collapsed
  • Static markers’ titles can be displayed in white or black colors
  • Improved path and POI handling
  • Regions can be selected in the Master RAR
  • Streamlined user interface

Support Documents

Can you assess democracy? (International IDEA Video)
Electoral Risk Management Tool: Overview (English, French, Arabic, Thai, Spanish)
Electoral Risk Management Tool: Internal Factors Guide (English, French, Arabic, Thai, Spanish)
Electoral Risk Management Tool: External Factors Guide (English, French, Arabic, Thai, Spanish)
The Prevention and Mitigation of Election-related Violence: An Action Guide (English, French, Arabic, Thai, Spanish)


The tool is highly customizable to different social and organization al contexts. It may be used in electoral management, electoral observation, early warning, conflict monitoring and prevention, or peacebuilding work.
The tool is available free to organizations committed to promoting credible electoral processes and peace.
To obtain your copy of the tool software, you need to register yo ur interest with International IDEA. Your organization will then be sent details about how to download the material.
A general user of the MS Office will have a sufficient computer literacy to start using the tool. A user manual and other support documents integrated into the tool will assi st users to explore full functionality of the tool.
In general this should not be necessary, but we welcome requests for further assistance.

ERMTool User Experiences

Applying the Electoral Risk Management Tool to Nepal’s elections

On a crystal clear day, set against a backdrop of the snowy Himalayan mountains, around 78 per cent of registered voters turned out to vote in Nepal’s second Constituent Assembly elections on 19 November 2013.

Constituent Assembly (CA) elections are rare events because these bodies are primarily tasked with drafting new constitutions. But in Nepal, a second election for a CA became necessary after the first process had to be halted as the constitution could not be completed by the time the CA’s term ended. They were quite close to finishing, though.

Yet from the outset there has been opposition. The Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist led by Mohan Baidya (should be differentiated to the United Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist under the leadership of Pushpa Kamal Dahal or better known as “Prachanda”) was joined by 33 other parties in a series of protest rallies and calling for strikes (bandh) right up to election day. So there was a widespread expectation, given Nepal’s history of violence, that the conduct of these elections would not be a smooth ride.

Read the entire experience

Elections in Nepal remain vulnerable to violence

On 3 September 2012, International IDEA presented its Electoral Risk Management Tool  to the staff of Nepal’s Election Commission (ECN), at the newly established Election Education and Information Center (EEIC)* in Kathmandu.

Nepal’s Acting Chief Election Commissioner, Neil Kanta Upreti, said that ECN is keen on adopting the Tool to support the country’s forthcoming comprehensive strategy on preventing electoral violence.

The Electoral Risk Management (ERM) Tool is a software application designed to empower those who have immediate responsibility or a specific interest in preventing and mitigating election-related violence. So it is of interest to electoral management bodies, security sector agencies, civil society and other state and non-state actors. The ERM Tool aims to build the user’s capacity to understand, analyze, prevent and mitigate outbreaks of election-related violence. The Tool’s knowledge resources integrate cross-cutting topics and build users understanding and awareness for related concepts and challenges.

Participants at the presentation - around twenty ECN senior staff members and colleagues from UNDP/Electoral Support Program and IFES - expressed keen interest in learning more about the ERM Tool. Questions were asked about internal security, whether the Tool can be localized and customized using the Nepali alphabet and what kind of capacity building is required to come to grips with using it.

Read the entire experience

ERMTool in South Africa and Botswana

From October 22-30, International IDEA’s Electoral Processes and Africa programmes facilitated a series of activities in collaboration with the Election Management Bodies (EMB) of two of its Southern African member states – South Africa and Botswana – on the Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMTool).

International IDEA developed and launched the ERMTool as a global public good in October 2013. The tool is designed to empower stakeholders that have either a mandate or an interest in ensuring the conduct of peaceful and crebidble electoral processes. The tool’s intended users are electoral management bodies, security sector agencies, civil society and other state or non-state actors.

With the country preparing for municipal elections in 2016, the Election Commission of South Africa (IEC) invited International IDEA to present the ERMTool to its commissioners and senior staff as it considers whether to adopt the tool to strengthen its risk management strategy. The presentation was followed by a two-day technical training on the ERMTool for twenty-four IEC officials from the headquarters and provincial offices. In welcoming International IDEA staff to its offices in Tshwane, IEC Vice Chairperson Terry Tselane reminded participants of the close partnership between International IDEA and the IEC and expressed his hope that this partnership can be further strengthened through the use of the ERMTool.

Read the entire experience

International IDEA's Electoral Risk Management Tool launched

International IDEA's Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMTool) is now available free online. The tool was launched during the 6th Global Electoral Organization (GEO) Conference in Incheon, Republic of Korea in October 2013. Subsequent launches have taken place at UN Headquarters in New York, and at the Mission of Switzerland to the European Union in Brussels. International IDEA was also invited to present the ERMTool during the World Forum for Democracy hosted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (a recording is available under lab 9).

The ERMTool is designed to empower users in organizing or supporting peaceful and credible elections. It assists in identifying the possible triggers for violence before it occurs at different stages of the electoral cycle, and helps users devise appropriate measures to avert it.

The ERMTool meets a global need for those with a responsibility for, or interest in, preventing and mitigating election-related violence, such as electoral management bodies (EMBs), security sector agencies, civil society and other state and non-state actors.

Read the entire experience

Managing the Risk of Electoral Violence in Africa

Africa has seen significant democratic development, economic growth and an overall decline in conflict in recent times. For example, there is an increasing number of countries that have recently managed to hold elections without violence, including Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Sierra Leone and South Africa.

However, elections in other African countries are still affected by election-related violence at different stages in the electoral cycle, which in turn threatens the development and consolidation of democracy. This is in spite of the African Union (AU) having articulated significant principles, structures, and instruments to guide the conduct of elections and democratization in Africa since the mid-1990s.

Understanding the risks of election related violence is an important part of supporting democracy and protecting the electoral process. With this in mind, a workshop on IDEA’s Electoral Risk Management Tool was held in Addis Ababa on 19-21 November 2012. The workshop was organized by International IDEA in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) Department of Political Affairs.

Read the entire experience

Mapping electoral risk in Nigeria

Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy, is preparing for elections in February 2015 with Presidential and National Assembly elections on 14 February followed by state governorship and Houses of Assembly elections on 28 February. The 2015 elections will be administered by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) headed by Chairman Attahiru Muhammadu Jega starting with a nationwide voter registration process. Political party campaigns are set to begin in November 2014.

Since December 2013, International IDEA and the African Union have partnered with INEC to implement a joint project which focuses on the national deployment of the IDEA Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERM Tool) which is designed to empower users in organizing or supporting peaceful and credible elections.

The Tool assists in identifying the possible triggers for election related violence before it occurs at different stages of the electoral cycle, and helps users devise appropriate measures to avert it.

Read the entire experience

Mapping electoral risk in Tunisia

In October and November 2014, Tunisia will hold parliamentary and presidential elections, the first after the adoption of the new constitution earlier this year. Both elections will be administered by The High Independent Election Commission in Tunisia (ISIE).

The possibility of election-related violence can be difficult to assess. International IDEA’s ERM Tool assists in identifying electoral related risks, in particular factors that may trigger election related violence before it occurs, and helps users devise appropriate measures to avert it. The Tool was launched as a global public good in October 2013 and can be customized to meet different country and electoral contexts.

On 9 - 10 August 2014, a workshop on ‘Mapping Electoral Risks in Tunisia’ was organized by ISIE in collaboration with International IDEA. The aim of the workshop was to gather participants' feedback which will in turn inform the customization of the Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMT) for the Tunisian context. This will enhance the understanding of electoral risks and mitigation methods and strengthen collaboration among national stakeholders.

Read the entire experience

Monitoring election related violence in Sri Lanka

Election related violence is not a new phenomenon to Sri Lanka. It has caused death, suffering and economic hardship to families and communities alike. Key factors include a daunting polarized political landscape, high stakes and a continued belief that the only response to violence is further violence. During the last presidential election in 2010 there were numerous violent attacks against candidates, campaigners and political activists. Supporters from the camps of two main candidates were blamed for igniting the violence. The perpetrators included criminal gangs and army deserters who were commissioned to threaten, coerce and even murder politicians and voters alike.

During the 2010 Presidential elections, the Centre of Monitoring Electoral Violence (CMEV), a local human rights organization fielded several hundred electoral observers across the country. One of their main tasks was to record incidents of electoral related violence. The organization started their monitoring work way before the elections, kept it up during, and continued after. They then disseminated their findings on a regular basis through online portals, such as blogs and Google maps.

As an organization renowned for the quality of its work in the field of monitoring election related violence (and accredited by the Sri Lankan Election Commission), CMEV was an ideal candidate to test the quality of the Tool. The test was conducted by using the data from the 2010 Presidential elections. Over a three month period CMEV evaluated the Tool’s quality and usability for analyzing risks and trends in a Sri Lankan electoral context.

Read the entire experience

Myanmar’s Union Election Commission explores use of International IDEA’s Electoral Risk Management Tool

The Union Election Commission (UEC), which is responsible for delivering peaceful and credible elections in Myanmar, emphasizes the management of electoral risks in its five-year strategic plan. To assist in this regard, International IDEA partnered with the UEC to organize a workshop on 19-20 March 2014 which explored the Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERM Tool), is a unique risk management framework developed by International IDEA specifically for electoral management. 

The workshop was intended to give a deeper understanding of the risks that may lead to election related violence; as well as providing a means of identifying prevention and mitigation measures relevant to Myanmar. A total of 25 participants from the UEC (staff and Commissioners), Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Immigration and Population, General Administration Department and Ministry of Education actively took part in this introductory workshop. International speakers presented an overview of the ERM Tool and explained how it has been adapted and used in different ways in Nepal, Kenya, and Bosnia.

The presenters introduced three main modules of the tool: 1. Knowledge Resources, 2. Analytical Instruments, and 3. Prevention and Mitigation. During the workshop, the participants were divided into groups to identify risks factors and risk levels for each region and state, identifying suggested preventive and mitigating actions, thus producing a so-called ‘risk alert’. Risk alerts are products of the Tool that are then used by Election Commissioners in deciding how to remedy the identified risks. Facilitators stressed to participants that the ERM Tool works best when the electoral management body reaches out to other important stakeholders such as political parties, CSOs, media, non-state actors and others to identify risks, gather data and engage a variety of actors in mitigating and preventing risks.

Read the entire experience

Preventing election related violence – Colombia: a test case

Colombia on 30 October 2011; the Colombian people are getting ready to elect their governors, mayors and local council members. The hopes are the elections take a democratic and peaceful discourse. But the reality proved far different. In the run-up to the election more than two dozen candidates were assassinated. Hundreds more were suspected of collaborating with guerrillas and drug traffickers, and the presence of paramilitaries, guerrillas and rebel groups, such as Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), affected the electoral outcomes. The electoral process was plagued by vote-buying which entrenched political clans that froze out reform minded newcomers. Before the elections, Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE), a civil society organization renowned for domestic electoral observation and for producing electoral risk maps, initiated a joint pilot project with International IDEA in order to test the Tool. MOE was attracted to International IDEA’s product because it is unlike anything else available currently: it is election specific and can be used in any country or context. 

The International IDEA's ERM Tool is integrated into a software application that includes three interactive modules: knowledge resources, analytical instruments and prevention and mitigation strategies. These can be used in combination or as standalone resources. Each module is flexible enough to allow users to focus on what is relevant in a given country and a particular electoral context. MOE coordinator, Felipe Jimenez points out that the great benefit was being able to customize the tool and create a model with factors specific to the Colombian electoral context.

“When we first looked at the checklist for identifying risks of election related violence, provided in the tool’s knowledge resource component, we found seven factors which we deemed very significant to us. Six of the factors were election-specific, such as: ‘lack of adequate administrative regulations’; ‘inadequate operational planning’; ‘Inadequate funding, financing and budgeting’; ‘poor or no training for electoral officials’; ‘poor performance of the EMB’; and ‘inadequate security arrangements’, and one external factor, ‘natural hazards’, which is very significant to Colombian context due to increased floods in 2011.” Jimenez also noted that the Tool allows for the inclusion of new factors. “In addition, we were able to create two new factors, ‘poor or no training for electoral judges’ and ‘poor or no training for electoral monitors.’ Both of these are very relevant in Colombia.” 

Read the entire experience

Strengthening electoral management in Bosnia and Herzegovina – A test case

All electoral management bodies face challenges when organizing democratic elections. Depending on the context, these may relate to security, political, logistical, financial or other risks. As a result, electoral management bodies (EMBs) are continuously improving practices in order to strengthen their independence, impartiality, integrity, transparency and professionalism, and thus ensure credibility of election results.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Central Election Commission (CEC)   was quick to adopt International IDEA’s Electoral Risk Management Tool and apply it to the November 2012 local government elections. Although elections in B&H are not prone to violence, following a presentation by IDEA earlier in the year, the CEC expressed interest in exploring how IDEA’s Tool could be used to monitor and analyze electoral processes. In particular, the CEC was interested in collecting information relating to the perceptions of citizens, local election administrators and political parties in the context of the November 2012 local elections.

International IDEA’s Electoral Risk Management Tool is primarily designed to empower EMBs and other state and non-state actors to understand, analyze, prevent and mitigate election-related violence. The Tool is designed to assist EMBs to bring into focus critical aspects of electoral processes and improve their management practices. It can also be applied in situations where election-related violence is not an immediate challenge, like in the case of B&H. 

Read the entire experience

The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission tests IDEA's Electoral Risk Management Tool for Kenya’s election

International IDEA has been cooperating with the IEBC on the ERM Tool pilot project since November 2011. The project is funded by the Swedish Government. The Tool will be launched as a global public good in late 2013. 

Conducting a free and fair election is one of the most challenging endeavours for a democratic country. This is even more so when there has been substantial political reform, as in Kenya’s case after the contested election in 2007. 

On 4 March 2013, Kenya voted for the president and legislature in what many have described as an historic day. Despite the logistical and technical issues experienced by the IEBC, counting of votes has commenced and is being observed by political parties and domestic and international observation monitors. The voting process has been peaceful, but isolated incidents of election related violence have been reported in Mandera, Nakuru, Kakamega Nyandarua, Kilifi, Garissa, Nyeri, Bungoma, Nairobi and in particular Mombasa. Hopefully peace will also prevail once the final tally of results is completed in what will most likely be a very tight race between the two main political presidential contenders: CORD’s Odinga and Jubilee’s Kenyatta.

Read the entire experience


Bosnia and Herzegovina Central Election Commission on the ERMTool

The Electoral Risk Management Tool in Kenya

Electoral Risk Management in Macedonia

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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.