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International IDEA at RightsCon 2023: Protecting electoral officials in the online space

18:15 - 19:15 CEST

International IDEA will organize an online dialogue session during RightsCon 2023, delving into the distressing reality of the violence faced by electoral officials in the online space. 

"From Sexual Objectification to Death Threats: Protecting Electoral Officials in the Online Space" is a follow-up to International IDEA's initiative to raise awareness and guide interventions against harmful content and conduct in the information space around elections. During this session, a diverse panel of senior current and former electoral officials will share their personal stories, shedding light on the largely unnoticed issue of violence against electoral officials in the information space. 

Electoral officials across the globe are confronting disinformation and various forms of aggression and harassment in the online environment. What was once perceived as a localized problem in the United States has been revealed, through International IDEA's research, to have a global reach, affecting election officials on every continent, regardless of whether they operate within new or established democracies. 

Often falling under the radar, attacks against these public officials include trolling, devaluation of work, intimidation and even death threats. Women in electoral management face an additional layer of disinformation and attacks based on gender. Stereotypes and misogyny fuel campaigns that portray them as incapable, further perpetuating inequality. 

On an individual level, the consequences are profoundly disturbing and range from reputational damage, the curtailment of civil rights to psychological trauma, physical violence against officials and their inner circle and even murder. Such incidents not only discourage electoral officials from aspiring to or remaining in leadership positions, resulting in a loss of organizational knowledge and competence. The impact of these malign practices poses a serious threat to democracy as a whole, as the perpetrators' ultimate aim is to erode trust and credibility in elections.

Through this initiative, we hope to raise awareness and spark conversations that lead to concrete actions in protecting electoral officials. The session will also underscore the urgent need for commitments from states and technology companies to address this pressing issue.

Register here to participate:  (various subscription options are available, including the free ticket)

Join our efforts to #ProtectElections and #ProtectElectoralOfficials.

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