Countering Hate Speech in Elections: Strategies for Electoral Management Bodies

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Democracies at various phases of development and consolidation have proven vulnerable to hate speech and its ill-effects. Election campaigns provide particularly fertile ground for hate speech and incitement to violence and the authority wielded by, and the amplifying effect of, mass and social media, have been a significant factor in recent years.

For responsible electoral institutions, the problem is dynamic and complex. Remedies involving restrictions on free speech and on political and electoral rights are controversial, as they may limit fundamental rights in a democratic society. Indeed, some human rights activists and international institutions have insisted that the best response to hate speech is more speech.

Countering Hate Speech in Elections: Strategies for Electoral Management Bodies, authored by International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) Technical Lead on Elections, Conflict, and Security Vasu Mohan and Senior Elections Specialist Catherine Barnes, aims to help electoral management bodies better understand the range of issues surrounding hate speech during the electoral cycle, the regulatory and non-regulatory options that may be brought to bear, and how to build partnerships with stakeholders to ensure that elections are free, fair, inclusive and safe.

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