Building Better Elections: Election Management in Comparative Perspective
11th ECPR General Conference Universitetet I Oslo, Oslo 6 – 9 September 2017
Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Comparative Political Institutions.
We are delighted to be hosting our first event at the ECPR General Conference.
The number of elections that are held around the world has increased substantially with over 90% of the world’s nation states now holding regular national elections (Hyde and Marinov 2012). While many elections are conducted across the world to very high standards, there remains evidence of problems with poor election quality in both established and transitional democracies (Lehoucq 2003; Alvarez, Atkeson, and Hall 2012; Birch 2011; Norris 2014, 2015; James 2014). The design and performance of electoral management boards (EMBs), the organizations responsible for conducting elections, is one of the key factors shaping election integrity and has accordingly become a pressing concern for policy makers.
Conducting an election is a huge logistical challenge that involves the complex management of people, technology and resources. Planning and executing an election is comprised of a variety of technical and administrative tasks: voters must be registered and educated, candidates must register and keep track of their expenses, ballots must be designed, printed, distributed and counted. These electoral management tasks are crucial to engendering confidence in the electoral process and legitimacy of the results, and to maintaining election integrity.
Yet EMBs come in many different organizational forms around the world, and it is not clear how EMB institutional design and performance shapes election integrity. Previous work on this topic has taken three major paths. The first, building on the work of international and inter-governmental organizations, such as the International IDEA (International IDEA 2014), considers the legal designs and functions of election management bodies themselves, in an attempt to build better electoral institutions (Birch 2011; Norris 2014; van Ham and Lindberg 2015). The second, drawing primarily on the sharp increase of research on election laws following the 2000 election in the United States, looks at the efficacy of specific election laws, from postal voting to voter identification laws, in improving turnout and trust in elections (Hasen 2012; Hall 2013). The third uses tools from public administration to understand how to improve EMB organisational performance (Alvarez, Atkeson, and Hall 2012b, 2012a; Montjoy 2008; James 2013, forthcoming; Garnett forthcoming). Despite these inroads, there remain huge gaps in knowledge with most studies limited in their focus to the USA.
This conference Section features papers from all three major avenues of inquiry, tackling some of the most pressing electoral management issues around the globe.
This Section will be sponsored by, and launch the new Electoral Management Network (http://www.electoralmanagement.com/), a collective of scholars who research election management around the globe. The researchers involved in the Electoral Management Network will present the first results of a research project surveying EMB organisations in over 30 countries in Europe.
We have been allocated three section panels. This section will continue to be updated as the conference approaches. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Section page on the ECPR website: https://ecpr.eu/Events/SectionDetails.aspx?SectionID=642&EventID=96
Panel 1: Accountability in Electoral Management
This panel looks at the how accountability mechanisms can be built into the electoral process and the effects that they have in improving the running of elections. This includes the legal independence that EMBs, the role of election monitoring organisations, the regulation of social media and the relationships between the range of other actors involved in the electoral process.
Chair: Toby James, University of East Anglia
Discussant: Alistair Clark, University of Newcastle
- Building Better Electoral Management? EMB institutional design, EMB autonomy and election integrity – Carolien van Ham, University of New South Wales and Holly Ann Garnett, McGill University
- Deterrence, Norms, or Reforms? How Citizen Election Monitors aim to Build better Elections – Max Grömping, University of Sydney
- Managing Elections in a Monitory Democracy: UK Election Management in Comparative Perspective – Stuart Wilks-Heeg, University of Liverpool
- Social Media as a Regulation Challenge for Electoral Integrity: A Comparative Analysis of Canada and the United Kingdom – Erin Crandall, Acadia University and Andrea Lawlor, King’s University College
Panel 2: Building Human, Technological and Financial Resources in Election Management
This panel looks at the resources and capacity of EMBs. Papers will seek to explore and conceptualise EMB resources from different perspectives, including human, technological and financial. They will examine the approach that EMBs and international organisations have taken in using these resources and ‘what works’ in delivering well run elections.
Chair: Carolien van Ham, University of New South Wales
Discussant: Stuart Wilks-Heeg, University of Liverpool
- Building Better Elections: The Role of Human Resource Management Practices – Toby James, University of East Anglia
- The Cost of Democracy: What Determines Spending on the Governance and Public Administration of Elections? – Alistair Clark, University of Newcastle
- The Effectiveness of Early Voting – A Case Study of the Republic of Korea – Luke Butcher, National Election Commission of the Republic of Korea
- The United Nations approach to election management support – Maarten Halff, United Nations
- The use of technology in the election process: Who governs? – Leontine Loeber, University of East Anglia
Panel 3: Election Management in New and Struggling Democracies
This panel looks at the role and functions in new and struggling democracies. Papers will look at the relationships between electoral governance, justice and popular confidence in the electoral process in a range of cases studies cross-national studies.
Chair: Leontine Loeber, University of East Anglia
Discussant: Max Grömping, University of Sydney
- Can Political Parties Trust themselves? Electoral Governance, Confidence, and Competition in Latin America – Gabriela Tarouco, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
- Elections on Trial: The Need for Open Justice – Katherine Ellena, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
- Electoral Governance in India: Challenges and Innovations – Anupama Roy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
- Popular Confidence, Electoral Legitimacy and Logistics in Nigeria – Ibrahim Sani, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria and Abubakar Abdullahi, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria
- Securing the Vote: Electoral Management in Conflict Areas – Ujjwal Singh, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi
- Alvarez, R. Michael, Lonna Rae Atkeson, and Thad E. Hall. 2012a. Confirming Elections. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- ———. 2012b. Evaluating Elections: A Handbook of Methods and Standards. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Birch, Sarah. 2011. Electoral Malpractice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Garnett, Holly Ann. forthcoming. “Open election management bodies.” In Election Watchdogs, edited by Pippa Norris and Alessandro Nai. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Hall, Thad E. 2013. “US Voter Registration Reform.” Electoral Studies, 32, (4), p. 589-96.
- Hasen, Richard L. 2012. The voting wars: From Florida 2000 to the next election meltdown. Grand Rapids, MI: Yale University Press.
- International IDEA. 2014. Electoral Management Design: Revised Edition. Stockholm: International IDEA.
- James, Toby S. 2013. “Fixing failures of U.K. electoral management.” Electoral Studies, 32, (4), p. 597-608.
- ———. forthcoming. Comparative Electoral Management: Performance, Networks and Instruments. London and New York: Routledge.
- Montjoy, Robert S. 2008. “The Public Administration of Elections.” Public Administration Review, 68, (5), p. 788-99.
- Norris, Pippa. 2014. Why Electoral Integrity Matters. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- van Ham, Carolien, and Staffan Lindberg. 2015. “When Guardians Matter Most: Exploring the Conditions Under Which Electoral Management Body Institutional Design Affects Election Integrity.” Irish Political Studies, 30, (4), p. 454-81.
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