What constitutes a fair electoral system and a fair election? What are the guiding principles for reviewing electoral legislation?

This document sets out the basic legal components governing elections for the purpose of reviewing, drafting or amending electoral legislation. It aims to contribute to promoting uniformity, reliability, consistency, accuracy as well as professionalism in elections.

It covers a range of areas including boundary delimitation, electoral management bodies, voter registration, campaign finance and expenditure, balloting, vote counting, complaints and the role of parties and candidates.


Publication date
01 June 2002
Number of pages
91-89098-88-9 (Print)



1. The bases of internationally recognized electoral standards

2. Structuring the legal framework

3. The electoral system

4. Boundary delimitation, districting or defining boundaries of electoral units

5. The right to elect and to be elected

6. Electoral management bodies

7. Voter registration and voter registers

8. Ballot access for political parties and candidates

9. Democratic electoral campaigns

10. Media access and freedom of expression

11. Campaign finance and expenditure

12. Balloting

13. Counting and tabulating votes

14. Role of representatives of the parties and candidates

15. Electoral observers

16. Compliance with and enforcement of electoral law

Annex 1. Primary sources for international standards

Annex 2. Supplementary sources

Annex 3. Model codes

Annex 4. Glossary of electoral terms

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International Electoral Standards: Guidelines for reviewing the legal framework of elections

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