Assessing Electoral Fraud in New Democracies: A Basic Conceptual Framework

Publication Date: 
14 Feb 2011

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The purpose of this series of papers is to offer an assessment of electoral fraud from an international comparative perspective with the aim of providing a better understanding of the current nature of electoral fraud around the world. The papers also seek to present a set of strategies and tools that may help the international community to address the problem.   This first paper in the series discusses the importance of focusing on fraud in new democracies, provides a definition for fraud (as opposed to corruption or malpractice), and assesses how international democratic standards intersect with the prevention of electoral fraud.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is producing this white paper series to address the rising concern throughout the democracy and governance (D&G) community about the effects of electoral fraud on developing nations.  To date, most work in this field has focused on after-the-fact fraud detection, generally through the reports of international and domestic election observer missions. However, election observation only addresses part of the electoral fraud problem, which requires a more comprehensive approach of deterrence, detection, and mitigation. Over the past two decades, IFES has worked to help countries around the globe establish electoral systems and procedures that mitigate fraud and meet international standards for democratic elections. Through this paper series, IFES seeks to expand on this work and provide the D&G community with the necessary tools to combat electoral fraud.