Project Puts Fair Elections on the Ballot

13 June 2012

Electoral integrity
Electoral integrity has become an increasingly important issue in the wake of the Arab Spring, according to Electoral Integrity Project Director, Professor Pippa Norris

In the wake of Egypt's first democratic elections, the current Greek political crisis and the forthcoming US Presidential elections, global electoral integrity has become an increasingly significant issue.

And one faculty academic is leading the push to ensure democratic outcomes with the launch of a new collaborative project with Harvard University.

Professor Pippa Norris, from the Department of Government and International Relations, aims to tackle the issues that commonly overturn fair and democratic elections as the inaugural Director of The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP).

This Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project instigates a five-year partnership between the University of Sydney and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Through funding important research into global standards of electoral integrity, the EIP plans to not only analyse common forms of electoral malpractice but also to ascertain the most effective policy interventions to improve electoral processes worldwide.

Exploring common challenges to democratic elections is just one of the project's many aims, according to Professor Norris.

"Elections are commonly marred by problems such as limits on equal ballot access for opposition parties, pro-government media bias, maladministration in electoral registers and vote-rigging," she said.

While such problems are common in non-democratic nations, Norris warned that Australia is not immune from its own electoral issues.

"New challenges surrounding campaign finance, the regulation of political broadcasting, and online voting have arisen in Australia, the United States and Europe," she explained.

"Elsewhere even minor irregularities about voter registration or unfair ballot access have sometimes triggered instability, riots, and deadly violence.

"As elections have spread to almost every country around the globe, including many non-democracies, the issue of electoral integrity has generated growing concern, catalyzing a new body of research among both the academic and policy-making communities," said Norris.

The project draws support from an impressive host of world-class institutions represented on the EIP Advisory Board, which includes delegates from Oxford University, Essex University, University of Montreal, Yale University, Stanford University, Manchester University, the University of Heidelberg, Leiden University and the University of Cape Town.

It is also generously assisted by the University of Sydney, International IDEA, Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Committee on Australian Studies, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

The EIP will officially launch with a one-day workshop at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid on 7 July 2012, held in conjunction with the International Political Science Association's World Congress.

Subsequent annual workshops will be held at Harvard University in 2013 and the University of Sydney in 2014.

More details can be found at the Electoral Integrity Project's website.

Contact: Emily Jones

Phone: 02 9114 1961

Email: 1c1b1e014f4f38392d50202a441c531c201e782b551b4a240c