Should we allow our concept of what it take to hold a “free and fair” election to be frozen as pre-Internet conception? Assuming that the answer is no, I encourage you to read my draft article about elections and the Internet.
So, to have a “free and fair” election anywhere in the world:
1. How must the Internet (and ICTs like mobile tech) be used to support better election processes and informed voting?
2. What content and services must be online for an election process be declared free and fair?
Fast forward ten years from now and imagine this media report … “today the fairness of the election process was seriously questioned due to the breakdown of the mobile SMS voter roll confirm system in the weeks before the election along with the promotional use the government’s portal with the incumbent President’s photo on top of the website during the election cycle ….”
I shared this article on the blog a bit ago, but have a hunch it official title “Standards for EMBs’ Use of Internet” isn’t quite sexy enough. The paper actually goes beyond election management body use of the Internet and talks about voter privacy, e-campaigning regulations, e-media monitoring, and options for e-access in developing democracies to election information.
Also, because the article is being distributed by IFES to election administration experts, the context about what the heck election standards are were not included in the final version. In my research, I quickly discovered that there is no master list of standards, but a body of statements, agreements, and guides:
- International IDEAâ€™s â€œInternational Electoral Standards: Guidelines for reviewing the legal framework of electionsâ€
- OSCEâ€™s â€œExisting Commitments for Democratic Elections in OSCE Participating Statesâ€
- These documents extensively reference the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- , International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and related treaties
- Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development
Finally, while we established democracies tend to apply these standards on developing democracies (and don’t look in the mirror enough), I see the new information-age standards and expectations being applied and put into law in highly wired nations first and then being progressively applied to all countries as they become more “wired” in the decades ahead. In short, let’s start applying the ideas/recommendations in this paper to our local/state/national elections (and election laws/programs) in our own countries now.