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Publication | Report/Paper

Lessons Learned Processes: Advancing to the Next Elections

Guidelines from and for Election Management Bodies

Lessons learned processes are a critically important tool that link electoral cycles to each other, where an electoral management body (EMB) evaluates the successes and shortcomings of a previous election with the input of electoral stakeholders. When done properly, lessons-learned processes improve service delivery, enhance trust in the EMB and its institutional capacity, and improve relationships with stakeholders and the broader public. Despite the importance of these processes, there are no established guidelines for EMBs looking to improve their existing lessons-learned processes or hold them for the first time.

These guidelines seek to fill that gap and are both by and for elections-related practitioners, particularly EMB staff and leadership. They are based on survey responses from EMBs in 57 countries and from 32 international experts. They reflect input from eight leading citizen observer groups, eight organizations that work with political parties, and four leading development partners. The guidelines incorporate collaboration with 15 organizations that work on elections, including multilateral agencies and EMB networks.


Meaningful lessons learned exercises can help:

  • Improve future electoral processes. They enable EMBs to be more informed, conduct more effective evidence-based planning(including strategic planning), and use the time between elections productively.
  • Build EMBs’ institutional resilience and capacity to manage ongoing and emerging challenges.
  • Enable EMBs to increase collaboration and build trust with stakeholders, including marginalized groups and the public more widely, as well as support EMBs’ accountability.
  • Enhance EMBs’ credibility, leadership, and authority, including in building relationships with other state agencies and in seeking funding. This can help strengthen their perceived and actual independence as well as professionalism.
  • Improve internal EMB functioning.
  • Promote more responsible behavior by stakeholders.
  • Support positive electoral development and reform that is accepted within the EMB and by stakeholders, including strengthening inclusion efforts.
  • Mitigate the risk of future election-related conflict and defend democratic space.
Pull Quote Text
These guidelines seek to support election administrations around the world in undertaking their work responsibly and effectively, involving wider stakeholders, and finding ways forward through all the challenges we face now and in the years that come. Lessons learned exercises are critical as the most substantive link between a just-completed electoral cycle and setting the stage for the next.
Muhammadu Jega
Former Chair, Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria

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