GS05 Electoral Integrity

Session Chairs
Prof. Pippa Norris
Dr. Sarah Cameron
Dr. Thomas Wynter

Elections are the heart of liberal democracies yet they can be derailed through numerous types of flaws and failures. In some, there are loud cries of fraud. Fake news is disseminated. Voting rights are suppressed. District boundaries are gerrymandered. Campaign finance provides a skewed playing field for parties. Independent media are muzzled. Citizens are ill-informed about choices. Balloting is disrupted by bloodshed. Official records are hacked. Ballot boxes are stuffed. Vote counts are fiddled. Opposition parties withdraw. Contenders refuse to accept the people’s choice. Protests disrupt polling. Officials abuse state resources. Electoral registers are out-of-date. Candidates distribute largesse. Votes are bought. Airwaves favor incumbents. Campaigns are awash with hidden cash. Political finance rules are lax. Incompetent local officials run out of ballot papers. Incumbents are immune from effective challengers. Rallies trigger riots. Women candidates face discrimination. Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Voting machines jam. Lines lengthen. Ballot box seals break. Citizens cast more than one ballot. Legal requirements serve to suppress voting rights. Polling stations are inaccessible. Software crashes. ‘Secure’ ink washes off fingers. Courts fail to resolve complaints impartially. Each of these diverse problems can generate contentious elections characterized by lengthy court challenges, opposition boycotts, public protest, or, at worst, deadly violence. These challenges make democratic institutions more vulnerable, corrode public trust, and undermine electoral legitimacy. They heighten the threat of democratic backsliding, and authoritarian resurgence, in countries around the world. This general session welcomes research papers drawing upon diverse methods, approaches and evidence which address the causes and consequences of these issues, and what can be done to overcome these problems, in countries around the world.