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Global overview of COVID-19 impact on elections

Global overview of COVID-19: Impact on elections

Elections postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) span the globe. Here is a list of the current elections schedule and plans, as reported by  electoral management bodies and news media. Please note that this list is not comprehensive but represents a snap shot of decisions and events across the globe.

 

This page was updated on 7 April 2020.  
Please note that the below lists are not comprehensive. Check back on this page for updates and guidelines, based on International IDEA's research.
Please contact International IDEA via elections@idea.int if any of the information requires further updates.
Este panorama global sobre COVID-19 y las elecciones está disponible en español.

 

This page is divided into six main parts:

Analysis

Postponed elections (by region)

Elections held amid COVID-19

Change in elections date discussed as a result of COVID-19 period

COVID-19 implications on election preparations

Featured cases of prevention and mitigation efforts

 

Analysis

From 1 March 2020 until 6 April 2020:

  • at least forty-seven (47) countries and territories across the globe have decided to postpone national and subnational elections due to COVID-19;
  • at least thirteen (13) countries and territories have decided to hold national or subnational elections as originally planned despite concerns related to COVID-19.

 

Postponed elections due to COVID-19

Africa 

  • All by-elections and voter registration activities in South Africa (originally planned for March-May 2020)
  • Municipal in elections in Hassi El Ferid, and Jbeniana, Tunisia (originally scheduled for 28-29 March 2020)
  • By-elections for senatorial district in Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau, Nigeria (originally scheduled for March 2020)
  • By-election in ward 16 of Chiredzi rural district council, Zimbabwe (originally scheduled for 4 April 2020)
  • Niamina West Constituency by-election, Gambia (originally scheduled for16 April 2020)
  • Parliamentary election, Ethiopia (originally scheduled for 29 August 2020)
  • By elections, Kenya (originally scheduled for April, June-July 2020)

Americas 

  • Primary elections in 15 states across the USA and several local elections around  the country (originally scheduled for March – May 2020).
  • Single constituency referendum, Falkland Islands, British overseas territory (originally scheduled for 26 March 2020).
  • Elections for the community action board, Colombia (originally scheduled for 26 April  2020)
  • Local municipal elections in Chipao, Ayacucho district, Peru (originally scheduled for 29 March 2020)
  • Municipal elections in the Cordovan City of Río Cuarto, Argentina (originally scheduled for 29 March 2020)
  • By-elections, City of Victoria, Canada (originally scheduled 4 April 2020)
  • Supplementary election for the position of senator in Mato Grosso Brazil (originally scheduled for 26 April 2020)
  • Constitutional referendum, Chile (originally planned for 26 April 2020))
  • General elections in Bolivia (originally scheduled for 3 May 2020)
  • Local (departmental and municipal) elections, Uruguay (originally scheduled for 10 May 2020)
  • Primary elections in Paraguay (originally scheduled for 12 July, moved to 2 August 2020) and Local (Municipal) elections in Paraguay (originally scheduled for 8 November, moved to 29 November 2020)
  • Local elections in Coahuila and Hidalgo, Mexico (originally scheduled for 7 June 2020)

Asia 

  • Rajya Sabha elections, India (originally scheduled for 26 March 2020)
  • By-elections, Pakistan (originally scheduled for March 2020)
  • Local council elections, Maldives (originally scheduled for 4 April 2020)
  • Local elections in Kyrgyzstan (originally scheduled for 12 April 2020)
  • Parliamentary elections in Syria (originally scheduled for 13 April 2020, moved to 20 May 2020)
  • Second round of parliamentary elections in Iran (originally scheduled for 17 April 2020, moved to 11 September 2020)
  • Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka (originally scheduled for 25 April 2020)
  • Regional (local) elections, Indonesia (originally scheduled 23 September 2020)

Europe 

  • Municipal and mayoral elections in Vorarlberg, Austria (originally scheduled for 15 March 2020)
  • Referendum on abortion, Gibraltar, British Overseas Territory (originally scheduled for 19 March 2020)
  • Second round of local elections in France (originally scheduled for 22 March 2020)
  • Senate by-elections, Teplice Czech Republic (originally scheduled for 27-28 March & 3-4 April 2020)
  • Local elections in Hessen and Saxony, Germany (originally scheduled from April-October 2020)
  • Referendum on changes to the constitutional court, Armenia (originally scheduled for 5 April 2020)
  • Regional elections in Euskadi and Galicia, Spain (originally scheduled for 5 April 2020)
  • Parliamentary elections in North Macedonia (originally scheduled for 12 April 2020)
  • Constitutional referendum in Russia (originally scheduled for 22 April 2020). In addition, the Central Election Commission of Russia took the decision (03.04.2020) to postpone all elections initially scheduled in the period of 5 April to 23 June to later dates. The decision covers about 94 electoral processes and local and regional levels.  
  • Local Authority Elections in the Isle of Man, Self-governing British Crown dependency (originally scheduled for 23 April 2020)
  • Local snap elections for city council in Riga,  Latvia (originally scheduled for 25 April 2020)
  • General elections in Serbia (originally scheduled for 26 April 2020)
  • Turkish Cypriot leadership election in Cyprus (originally planned for 26 April 2020, moved to 11 October 2020)
  • Local elections in the United Kingdom (originally scheduled for the first week of May 2020, moved to May 2021)
  • Federal vote, Switzerland (originally scheduled for 17 May 2020) and several local (municipal) elections in the cantons of Neuchâtel, Ticino, and Luzern  (originally scheduled for April-June 2020).
  • A referendum in Italy to reduce the number of seats in parliament (originally scheduled for 29 March 2020), in addition to numerous regional and local elections
  • Local elections in Romania (originally scheduled for June 2020)

Oceania 

  • Local government elections in New South Wales, Australia for a year (originally scheduled for September 2020)
  • By elections for Central Honiara and North East Guadalcanal Constituencies, Solomon Islands (originally scheduled for June 2020)
  • Government General Elections, Autonomous Bougainville Papua New Guinea (originally scheduled for June 2020)

Countries with postponed elections (in blue) as a result of COVID-19. (Map generated using www.amcharts.com/visited_countries)

 

Elections held amid COVID-19

Examples of elections and referendums that proceeded in March 2020 include: legislative elections in Israel (2 March 2020); kuomintang chairperson elections, Taiwan (7 March 2020), local elections in France (15 March 2020); local elections in Bavaria, Germany (first round 16 March 2020 and second round 29 March 2020); local elections in Hâncești, Moldova (15 March 2020); municipal elections in the Dominican Republic (15 March 2020); and primary elections in Arizona, Florida and Illinois (17 March 2020); General elections in Vanuatu (19 March 2020); six by elections in Poland (22 March 2020) and a constitutional referendum in Guinea (22 March 2020), general elections in Mali (29 March 2020), local elections in Queensland, Australia (29 March 2020), local elections in Luzern, Switzerland (29 March 2020). 

Examples of elections and referendums that proceeded in April 2020 include: second round municipal elections in Geneva, Switzerland (4 April 2020) by postal voting only.

Special health and safety measures were introduced for many of the above elections.

Countries that have held elections amid COVID-19 (in blue). Map generated using www.amcharts.com/visited_countries

Change in elections date discussed as a result of COVID-19 period

Several countries across the world are discussing the possibility of postponing elections and referendums as a result of COVID-19. Examples include: Singapore, (Ivory Coast) Côte d'Ivoire and Romania.

Elections in South Korea (parliamentary elections, 15 April 2020), Mali (parliamentary elections, second round of voting 19 April 2020), Poland (presidential elections set for 10 May 2020), Dominican Republic (presidential and legislative elections, 17 May 2020), Tasmania, Australia (legislative council elections, 30 May 2020),  Mongolia (parliamentary elections, 29 June 2020), New Zealand (General election and referendums set for 19 September 2020) are being held as originally scheduled despite concerns related to COVID-19. Also many primary elections in the USA will take place in April and May. A large proportion of the primaries will be held through postal voting only as a result of COVID-19.  Moreover, the U.S. Presidential Election is still on schedule for 3 November 2020.

 

COVID-19 implications on election preparations

Election preparations in South Africa and Ghana have been affected by COVID-19 in particular voter registration. Also election preparation in particular training of members of electoral commissions in Wroclaw, Poland ahead of the presidential election on 10 May 2020 may be inadequate.The funding for the local elections scheduled for October 2020 in Ukraine may decrease and redirected to help combat COVID-19. The draft law on amendments to the budget of Ukraine if passed will have an impact on the Central Election Commissions ability organizing, preparing and holding elections.

 

Featured Cases of Prevention and Mitigation Efforts

Israel

4 March 2020, National Elections

In Israel separate polling stations made of plastic sheeting were set up and staffed by election officials in protective clothing for more than 5,500 voters who were under precautionary home isolation after returning home from abroad.

 

South Korea

15 April 2020 , Legislative Election  

In South Korea—where there are more than 8,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 100 reported deaths— patients will be able to vote during the 15 April parliamentary elections from home and hospitals based on a recent EMB ruling of the election code. Also, the National Election Commission is preparing a Code of Conduct for citizens to participate in voting. Voters will be expected to wash their hands before going to the polling station and have masks and ID cards ready. Also voters are expected to keep a safe distance from others as well as refraining from discussions in or outside the polling station.

 

United States of America

28 April 2020, Special election

In Maryland, the electoral management body (EMB)  is planning to hold one special election in late April that will be shifted to solely mail voting in response to COVID-19. This special election is regarded as a test case for local EMB officials to determine whether mail voting could be used as a model throughout the United States.

 

Germany

29 March 2020, Local elections in Bavaria  

The German state of Bavaria held the first round of local elections on 16th March 2020, offering in-person voting at polling stations and postal voting. The second-round run-off election held on 29th March 2020, is an all-postal vote election decided in response the COVID-19 pandemic and the health risk of contagion posed through social contact. The all-postal vote was decided, and logistical arrangements made after the first-round election was held.

 

Austria

March 2020 local elections in Vorarlberg and Styria

In an emergency session of parliament on 15th March 2020, Austria passed the ‘COVID-19-Law’during a one-day procedure. The law does not mention elections, but allows for far reaching restrictions to public life, including bans of assembly for more than five persons. Local elections scheduled for 15th March 2020 in the State of Vorarlberg and for 22nd March 2020 in Styria have both been cancelled. New dates will be announced. Indefinitely postponing elections is not in Austria’s Constitution and its election laws prescribe: “In the event of circumstances that prevent the beginning, continuation or completion of the election, the election administration can extend the election or postpone it to the next day.”

 

The United Kingdom

May 2020 local elections

The United Kingdom (UK) Electoral Commission recommended to parliament that elections for the London Mayor, London Assembly, local elections in England and Wales and elections for regional Police and Crime Commissioners scheduled to be held on 7th May 2020, should be postponed to mitigate social contact during election campaigning for elections. Based on this advice the UK government brought forward legislation to postpone the elections until 6th May 2021.

 

New Zealand

19 September 2020 General Elections and referendums

Ahead of the elections, the EMB has announced that they will enact a range of contingency plans as a result of COVID-19. Furthermore, the EMB has highlighted alternative voting methods and clearly communicated the legal framework for a potential change in the election date.     

 

United States of America

March 2020  

On 9 March 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published recommendations for election polling stations as a result of COVID-19. The guidelines include preventative actions for election officials and the general public in advance and during election day. It also includes guidelines for handling mail-in ballots. Also, the U.S. Electoral Assistance Commission created a dedicated page that includes multiple election management resources (Coronavirus Covid-19 Resources)  developed for U.S. election officials who are considering health and safety measures as well as postal voting .

 

Australia

28 March 2020 Queensland’s Local Government Elections

The Electoral Commission Queensland has published a list of COVID-19 protection measures ahead of the elections. Voting in Australia is compulsory.

 

Indonesia 

26 September 2020 Regional Elections

NGOs in Indonesia have been urging for the suspension of the regional (Gubernatorial, Regent/Mayoral) elections due to the fact that the Electoral Commission has on 21 March suspended four major activities surrounding the updating of voters’ lists as a result of the need to keep “physical distance” among the population. This virtually makes the September election date hard, if not impossible, to keep. The Commission met on 30 March 2020, to “comprehensively” strategies the next steps.  In the end, all parties agreed to postpone the election and to reallocate the unused electoral budgets to regional governments for COVID-19 pandemic response. A “Government Regulation In Lieu of a Law” will be issued as legal basis until the parliament can put it into law at their next session.

 

Mongolia 

29 June 2020 Parliamentary Elections

Much public debate has occurred ever since the President made a public address on 23 March proposing a postponement to the forthcoming parliamentary elections to save costs. The Prime Minister and Cabinet have since responded that the situation does not yet require postponement. International IDEA has been informally informed that the ruling party has put the use of internet voting on the table, but implementation would be challenging for elderly people in the countryside and also due to poor internet connection.

 

Chile

26 April 2020 Constitutional Referendum 

Chile postpones constitutional referendum for six months Chile had set a national plebiscite on whether or not to draft a new constitution for 26 April 2020. On 19 March 2020, following a broad political agreement among 15 political parties, it was rescheduled for 25 October 2020. The decision came after Sebastían Piñera, Chile’s President, declared a 90-day state of catastrophe in the country, with the objective of strengthening the government’s ability to contain the virus. This is an important decision, especially since the demand for a new constitution has been at the heart of the large-scale protests engulfing the country since October 2019. In order to bring into effect this new date for the plebiscite, a constitutional reform bill was presented and required the approval of two thirds of parliamentarians.

Media

NEWS: Elections during COVID-19: Considerations on how to proceed with caution

With more than 70 national elections scheduled for the rest of year worldwide, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting into question whether some of these elections will happen on time or at all. What are the possible risks, implications and solutions?

READ THE ARTICLE.