The Year in Elections, 2017 Mid-Year Update
Pippa Norris, Thomas Wynter, Max Grömping and Sarah M. Cameron
Elections provide regular opportunities for citizens to determine how they are governed and by whom, although the integrity of these contests varies by country and region. Electoral malpractices, from overt cases of violence and voter intimidation to more subtle campaigns of disinformation, continue to undermine contests around the world. The Perceptions of Electoral Integrity expert survey monitors elections globally and regionally, across all stages of the electoral cycle.
What is new?
This release of the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity dataset (PEI 5.5) is drawn from a survey of 2,961 experts providing perceptions of electoral integrity. The cumulative study covers 161 countries holding 260 national elections from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2017. This update reports on an additional 19 elections in 18 countries, with the inclusion of France, the Bahamas, and Timor-Leste for the first time.
Voter Registration: Security v. inclusion?
Part II of the report highlights one of the major challenges of electoral integrity, the voter registration process, emphasizing the need to balance both security and accessibility. Problems of voter registration cover a wide range of malpractices, from disenfranchisement to maladministration and fraud.[i] As the US and UK show, even in long-established democracies disputes occur about some basic procedures, such as whether or not it is appropriate to demand some form of photo identification at the registration or polling place. In developing countries without reliable census information or identification documents the challenges are even greater.[ii]
To evaluate these issues, PEI monitors three issues:
- Inclusion, measured by whether some citizens were not listed on the register;
- Accuracy, measured by whether the electoral register was accurate; and
- Security, measured by whether some ineligible electors were registered.
These are interconnected in practice. The most widespread problem in many countries, however, was the exclusion of eligible citizens, for example due to disputed citizenship rights, attempts at voter suppression, lack of young people, women, linguistic or ethnic minorities, and hard-to-reach rural populations, or failing to maintain up-to-date rolls.
Electoral integrity by global region
Part III of the report provides an overview of electoral integrity by world region, with brief case studies on elections conducted in 2017: France in Northern and Western Europe, Ecuador in the Americas, Timor-Leste in the Asia-Pacific, Serbia in Central and Eastern Europe, Algeria in the Middle East and North Africa, and The Gambia in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Index scores for new elections added to the dataset in 2017 are shown in the chart below, ranging from the Netherlands, evaluated highly by the expert survey, through to Turkmenistan, which was lowest.
Parts IV and V provide reference and technical information.
Perceptions of electoral integrity are measured with a rolling survey completed by experts in each country one month after polls close. The experts are asked to assess the quality of national elections on eleven sub-dimensions: electoral laws; electoral procedures; district boundaries; voter registration; party registration; media coverage; campaign finance; voting process; vote count; results; and electoral authorities. These sum to an overall Electoral Integrity Index scored 0 to 100.
[i] Birch, Sarah. Electoral malpractice. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2011.
[ii] International IDEA. 2017. ‘Introducing biometric technology in elections’.