Election monitoring

Election monitoring

Election monitoring is the observation of an election by one or more independent parties, typically from another country or a non-governmental organization (NGO), primarily to ensure the fairness of the election process. There are national and international election observers. Monitors do not directly prevent electoral fraud, but rather record and report such instances. The legitimacy of an election can be affected by the criticism of monitors, provided that they are themselves seen as unbiased. A notable individual is often appointed honorary leader of a monitoring organization in an effort to enhance its own legitimacy.


The first monitored election was that of a plebiscite in Moldavia and Wallachia that was monitored by most of the major European powers. Election monitoring was uncommon until after World War II.

The elections that are seen to be monitored are normally in countries where the democracy is seen as somewhat unstable and where there is a perceived threat that the election may be illegally influenced. A team of monitors observed the 2004 United States election, after concerns of voter inaccuracy in the 2000 U.S. election. There were national and international election observers in the 2006 Mexican general election.


The United Nations Electoral Assistance Division is the foremost election monitoring organization, and maintains a permanent staff of monitors and election experts who attend elections around the world. Other international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Union, the Congress of the Council of Europe and the African Union also have monitoring teams. Individual governments also participate in monitoring efforts, generally under the umbrella of an international organization. These national efforts are normally managed by the local electoral commission. A wide array of NGOs also participate in monitoring efforts. The Carter Center, for example, played a key role — with the U. N. Electoral Assistance Division and the National Democratic Institute — in building consensus on a common set of international principles for election observation. [http://www.cartercenter.org/peace/democracy/observed.html#table The Carter Center list of elections observed] . The Carter Center.]


The monitoring itself takes many forms. Even the most closely scrutinized elections have only a relatively small number of observers. These observers are generally concentrated in areas that may be subject to problems, making surprise visits to polling stations with cameras and recording devices. Foreign observers rarely speak the language or understand the culture of the country where the election is being monitored. The vast majority of election monitoring thus relies on locals.Fact|date=February 2007 Many domestic observers tend to be partisans looking out for the interests of their party and it is a challenge for international observers to parse the information they receive from these sources.Fact|date=February 2007 The objectivity of some international observers is also questioned. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1844618,00.html 'People power' is a global brand owned by America] . By Mark Almond. August 15, 2006. "The Guardian."]

Long Term Observers (LTO)

Most observation missions send a small number of long-term monitors (known as LTOs) for a period of six to eight weeks. A larger number of short-term observers (known as STOs) then join the mission for the final week of the campaign. STOs provide mostly quantitative observation of polling station and count procedures, with LTOs supplying qualitative analysis and contextual information about the wider political situation.Fact|date=February 2008

Local and regional election monitoring

Though most international observer organisations have a mandate to observe parliamentary elections, the Congress of the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the Venice Commission, is specifically mandated to monitor local and regional elections and is unique in this regard. Since 1990, over 50 election processes have been observed by the Congress. In spite of the political and media prevalence which is given to elections at the national level, the holding of free and fair elections at the sub-national level is at least as important. No democracy can be referred to as such if not built on sound foundations.The Congress Strategy on election observation is based on three lines of action:
* Election monitoring by the Congress should contribute to setting-up institutional frameworks which comply with the principles underlying local democracy as laid down in the European Charter of Local Self-Government. In light of this, the Congress puts the accent on post-election dialogue as part of the Congress' work on monitoring of local and regional democracy. The aim is to improve the follow-up given to the recommendations adopted by the Congress following election observation missions and to facilitate their implementation.
* Election monitoring by the Congress should contribute to promoting awareness about the significance of democracy at the local and regional level.
* Making full use of the unique role of the Congress in the field of election observation, efforts are also made to increase the operational capability of election observation missions.

Paliamentary election monitoring

ee also

* CIS election observation missions
* Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
* Congress of the Council of Europe



* [http://www.e-voting.cc/topics/wp/ E-Voting.CC: Observing Threats to Voter’s Anonymity: Election Observation of Electronic Voting]
* [http://www.coe.int/t/congress/default_EN.asp? Congress of the Council of Europe]
* [http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/human_rights/eu_election_ass_observ/docs/handbook_en.pdf EU: Handbook for European Union Election Observation Missions]
* [http://www.osce.org/publications/odihr/2005/04/14004_240_en.pdf OSCE: Election Observation Handbook]
* [http://www.osce.org/publications/odihr/2007/04/24088_829_en.pdf OSCE: Handbook for Long Term Election Observers]
* [http://www.accessdemocracy.org/library/1923_declaration_102705.pdf UN: Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation]
* [http://www.venice.coe.int/site/main/Activities_E.asp?MenuL=E Venice Commission]

External links

* [http://www.beyondintractability.org/m/election_monitoring.jsp Beyond Intractability: Election monitoring]
* [http://www.venice.coe.int/site/main/Elections_referendums_E.asp Council of Europe, Venice Commission: Elections and Referendums]
* [http://www.ifes.org/elections.html IFES - Democracy at Large: Election Services]
* [http://www.ndi.org/globalp/elections/programselc/monitors.asp National Democratic Institute for International Affairs: Elections & Political Processes]
* [http://www.osce.org/odihr-elections OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: Elections]
* [http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/ead/eadhome.htm UN Electoral Assistance Division]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7232389.stm "OSCE to boycott Russian election"] . 7 February 2008. "BBC." OSCE is the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
* [http://www.cartercenter.org/peace/democracy/index.html The Carter Center Democracy Program]

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