Assessing Electoral Fraud in New Democracies: A New Strategic Approach

Publication Date: 
9 Mar 2011

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Introduction

Recent election events around the world show that fraud is undermining the electoral process in both established democracies and transitional societies.

Elections to the executive office or legislative body have extremely high stakes. It is essential the development community recognizes that individuals, interest groups and political parties are willing to go to great lengths to ensure that “their” candidate or party acquires or remains in power.

If the electoral process is not pro-actively and strategically safeguarded, efforts to combat electoral fraud in an effective and credible manner will be extremely challenging. 

To date, election management bodies (EMBs) and other relevant stakeholders have placed insufficient emphasis on combating electoral fraud. A genuine electoral fraud control plan, instituted by the EMB and publically available for review, will allow election administrators to credibly and pro-actively detect, deter, and mitigate electoral fraud.

The implementation of an electoral fraud control plan is a clear indicator that the EMB is willing and prepared to honestly assess threats to the integrity of the electoral process and ready to take actions to defend its credibility.

Donors can also be both a catalyst and supporter of such actions by EMBs by putting electoral fraud to the forefront in democracy and governance programming. In fact, by formally including the electoral fraud plan among its official indicators, donors would make it abundantly clear to EMBs, other state institutions, observer missions and organizations offering technical assistance that electoral fraud must be combated effectively and continuously.