Protecting electoral processes and holding elections during times of crises

The participants of the Fiji Working Group on Protecting Electoral Processes in the Information Environment in 2023. Credit: International IDEA

The participants of the Fiji Working Group on Protecting Electoral Processes in the Information Environment in 2023. Credit: International IDEA

Global natural hazards—such as the storms, floods, earthquakes and wildfires that are wreaking havoc on electoral calendars and budgets—pose new challenges for electoral management bodies (EMBs). Additional risks are emerging from the threat of digital disinformation and manipulation, which can undermine trust in election results.
International IDEA is at the forefront of exploring the effectiveness of various approaches to these challenges, including the implication of digitalization on democracies and elections, highlighted by two donor-funded, multi-year and multi-region projects. 

A German Government–funded initiative encourages locally owned, multi-stakeholder solutions to protect electoral integrity and trust in the information environment, and a Canadian Government–funded initiative supports the development of ways to safeguard electoral processes.

In 2023, International IDEA (as a steering committee member) joined USAID and electoral assistance organizations around the world, in launching the Global Network for Securing Electoral Integrity (GNSEI), which convenes election stakeholders around a shared vision: to inspire and inform action to advance electoral integrity in the face of critical threats to democracy. GNSEI brings together electoral assistance actors to develop, advance, and promote adherence to norms, guiding principles, and codes of conduct that address emerging and long-term threats to electoral integrity.

The Covid-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for International IDEA to consolidate expertise on lessons learned from the pandemic and on the resulting challenges, such as the implementation of special voting arrangements. Alternative voting practices were required in response to the seeming incompatibility between in-person voting and public health requirements on social distancing. Two books published in 2023, Elections during Emergencies and Crises: Lessons for Electoral Integrity from the Covid-19 Pandemic and Special Voting Arrangements: The International IDEA Handbook, provide key lessons.

The book on elections during emergencies and crises was launched in May 2023 at the Council of Europe parliamentary conference on elections in times of crises, in collaboration with the Swiss Parliament. Participants from Council of Europe member states produced a final declaration that endorsed many of the recommendations from the conference on the need for election reform in light of future emergencies. International IDEA and the Electoral Integrity Project were awarded an International Institutional Engagement Award in Lisbon, Portugal.

'Studying, analysing and publishing the various paths that countries took for their elections helps ensure that the planet’s hard-won experience can be shared as widely as possible. And, appropriately, it writes these extraordinary efforts into the global story of democracy.’

Ellen L. Weintraub, Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, United States of America
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