Despite widespread acknowledgement that the media is critical to electoral processes, and that media organizations have the potential to affect voter behaviour, electoral assistance providers do not always prioritize media integration in their work.

This Policy Paper presents an overview of the main challenges to the integration of media development in electoral assistance programming. It identifies several obstacles to the integration of media support within international electoral assistance programmes. These obstacles can be grouped into three main categories: a lack of clarity regarding the definition and role of the media in the electoral process, the politically sensitive nature of the media and the failure of many organizations to plan projects well in advance of election day.

Among its key recommendations, the paper argues for the promotion of empirical research, within both the academic and policy communities, on the media’s impact on the electoral process. Such research should advance a theory of change that offers a detailed explanation of the causal pathway from media interventions to specific development and democratization goals.


Publication date
15 June 2015
Seema Shah
Number of pages
978-91-7671-006-7 (Print)


Key recommendations

Executive summary


1. Electoral assistance: an overview

2. Media and elections

3. Media and political participation

4. Electoral assistance and media support

5. Electoral assistance and media support: a challenging relationship



Acronyms and abbreviations



Case study 1: Targeting youth through multimedia in Cambodia

Case study 2: Monitoring dangerous speech on social media in Kenya

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Media Assistance and Elections: Toward an Integrated Approach

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