A Global Judicial Dialogue and Launch of Online Election Judgments Tool
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) brought together prominent experts and judges from Africa, Europe, the United States and Latin America for a dialogue about election cases. A recording of the event, which took place on February 25, 2021, is available above.
During the 2017 presidential election in Kenya, political analysts labelled the contest a “battle for Kenya’s soul” – one that ultimately ended in the nationwide annulment of the election result. This dramatic rhetoric was repeated in the 2020 U.S. elections, but a quick internet search shows it is surprisingly common – from local elections in Indonesia, to by-elections in Malaysia and even internally within political parties in Germany. These battles are placing the role of judges in elections into stark relief. The right to an effective investigation, appeal and remedy in election disputes is becoming even more fundamental.
In the unique context of elections, where power, governance and stability may be at stake, judges are coming under increasing public scrutiny and political pressure when deciding election cases. The level of stakeholder confidence in the electoral justice system can significantly affect whether elections are peaceful and viewed as credible. This is particularly the case when elections are expected to be closely contested or controversial.
The event considered the following questions: How are judges globally responding? What is the appropriate role of judges in pre- and post-election disputes? What are common themes emerging from election judgments around the world?
The event also launched the USAID-funded “ElectionJudgments” database – a global, curated collection of election judgments from around the world, developed by IFES and the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening under the Global Elections and Political Transitions mechanism.
The searchable database ElectionJudgments.org has been designed for judges, election professionals and researchers, and provides access to judgments on specialized electoral cases. It is intended to facilitate the exchange of sound precedents across jurisdictions, and to ultimately support the transparency and consistency of judgments and legal standards. Each judgment added to the database includes a brief summary to provide a snapshot of the decision, as well as a link to the full written decision. Judgments can be searched by region, country, legal issue, language, court and date.