The Global Network for Securing Electoral Integrity Statement of Vision and Goals

A global network that convenes election stakeholders around a shared vision: to inspire and inform action to advance electoral integrity in the face of critical threats to democracy

Problem Statement
The rising tide of political and economic inequality, corruption, political polarization, and authoritarianism poses immense challenges to securing democratic norms and human rights worldwide. It has also made the global environment for elections more complex. These systemic challenges have led to marked declines in satisfaction with democracy and exacerbated barriers for people who are marginalized, which can be exploited to weaken democratic institutions and undermine trust and confidence in elections. Rapidly-evolving technologies, the political impacts of climate change, wide-scale conflicts, and anti-democratic responses to national emergencies magnify these threats.

Meaningful democracy is not possible without credible elections. Genuine, fully inclusive, transparent, credible, and periodic elections peacefully resolve struggles for power, provide a safe environment for expressing various political opinions, and establish the legitimacy of governments. Many countries have shown significant progress in holding more democratic elections. Over the past few decades, many election management bodies have strengthened their capacity, resilience, and professionalism. Civil society has played a more significant role in pushing for transparent and inclusive elections. Credible citizen (domestic) and international election observation efforts have spread globally. 

However, these gains are at risk. While digital innovations have transformed the conduct of elections and made some processes more efficient, they have also brought complex new challenges related to transparency, data protection, cybersecurity, and public trust. Both foreign and domestic attacks on the information environment around elections are increasing in intensity, sophistication, and scope. In some contexts, malign actors seeking to undermine political processes may attempt to co-opt or undermine election management and electoral justice institutions, and target or repress citizen (domestic) and international election observers, political opposition, the media, civil society or academics. Women and people who are marginalized continue to face significant individual, social-cultural, economic, and institutional barriers to political participation and leadership, including on- and offline violence, which further hinders their participation. 

None of these challenges are constrained by borders, and their impacts are felt in both the Global South and the Global North, across both established and newer democracies. Transnational crises, such as pandemics, climate change, conflict, and migration, can destabilize elections and democracy. Failed or highly-contested elections can jeopardize geopolitical stability. Foreign-supported  malicious cyber activity and funding streams can influence domestic political campaigns. These realities serve as stark reminders that securing electoral integrity requires engagement with regional neighbors and the global community. To help make elections more resilient against future shocks, they must – among other things – be transformed into vehicles for genuinely inclusive and broad participation. Addressing the challenges to electoral integrity is both urgent and fundamental. 
To support genuine democracy, the Global Network for Securing Electoral Integrity recognizes that we must work together to advocate for, reinforce, and, where needed, encourage updates to election norms and principles; make elections more inclusive; anticipate and pre-empt threats; and take action to advance electoral integrity globally.  

We seek to establish – for the first time – a standing platform for systematic and regular collaboration between peers in the electoral integrity community from across the world, including organizations, networks, and initiatives from diverse countries and perspectives. The shared mission of this community is to ensure that elections – and the institutions, norms, principles, and processes underpinning them – reflect the will of all people. We also recognize that collaboration with actors outside of the election integrity community is crucial to tackling issues that require a broader mix of expertise. 

Ultimately, we hope to bolster the trustworthiness and resilience of the institutions, norms, principles, and processes that ensure elections reflect the will of the people. Our most powerful asset for securing electoral integrity is an informed public that engages in democracy and trusts it will deliver. Together we will work to support people and institutions to increase accountability and incentivize adherence to electoral integrity norms. 

Objective 1: Strengthen the electoral integrity norms framework 
Global threats to electoral integrity demand renewed commitment to advancing, promoting, and adhering to the rules of the game – the global norms that shape our shared understanding of a genuine democratic election. The Global Network for Securing Electoral Integrity will leverage its collective expertise to clearly identify critical threats to elections, promote awareness and adherence to existing norms and good practices, and, where there are gaps, shape consensus around guiding principles and effective methods to address emerging concerns.  
The Network will also leverage its collective influence to actively advocate for new or renewed commitments and action where needed. Opportunities include advocating for government commitments that protect electoral integrity; promoting mechanisms to protect oversight actors, such as election officials and citizen election observers; and influencing intergovernmental mechanisms. 

Objective 2: Provide a standing platform for an expanded network of actors to promote and defend electoral integrity.  
Election observation organizations, election management bodies, election-focused researchers and practitioners, the international donor community, and civic society each have networks that inform their work. Linking such networks will allow the community to showcase and share their successes, consider new opportunities for promoting electoral integrity, and anticipate emerging threats and challenges. Though they play out differently in each context, the electoral integrity issues faced by established and newer democracies have converged. Older democracies are revisiting electoral systems and regulations that need bolstering and/or updating. Meanwhile, newer democracies, although faced with the challenges of building democratic institutions and processes, sometimes show more resilience and innovation from which more established democracies can learn.

To foster such coordination and learning, the Network will spearhead a regular and recurring forum for the groups mentioned above. The Network will focus on mitigating threats to elections by: sharing information and innovative and effective practices; coordinating on ways to disincentivize actors from undermining elections; and building relationships to strengthen cooperation between a variety of actors in the face of threats. The Global Network will also prioritize building bridges with other sectors whose work has bearing on electoral integrity, such as rule-of-law actors, human rights practitioners, anti-corruption bodies, media and other information integrity actors, and the technology sector.