Global Democracy, devolution and governance

Electoral administration: Case studies and resources for local government


Every week, we highlight inspiration and innovation from local government worldwide. In this article, we’re focusing on measures from Brazil, Northern Ireland, Timor-Leste and Belgium to improve and protect our electoral systems and campaigns, along with plenty of practical policy and resources on coordinating elections.

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Policy innovation and inspiration examples from the local government sector

Northern Ireland: Blind people helped to cast first private votes
In the 2022 NI assembly election, blind and partially-blind sighted people were able to vote privately for the first time. While often viewed as a cornerstone of the electoral process, the right to vote in secret has previously been thought implausible for blind voters. Yet following the creation of a new helpline by the Electoral Office in Northern Ireland, many voters could vote privately for the first time. The helpline allows blind and partially-sighted people to hear the list of candidates in their constituency as they appear on the ballot paper. They are then helped by a tactile voting device placed over the ballot paper while they vote.
BBC News

Brazil: Electoral authorities work to pre-empt electoral disinformation
Inspired by events in the U.S., former Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro worked to sow mistrust in the electoral process in the run-up to the 2022 general election, inviting foreign diplomats to the presidential palace to air his doubts over the electronic voting system and accuse Supreme Court judges of sabotaging his reelection campaign. In response, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal permitted political parties and government bodies to inspect voting machines, invited international experts to observe elections, and held events engaging diplomats, civil and religious leaders, and online influencers on the electoral process.
Journal of Democracy

Timor-Leste: “Resilient elections based on experience”
Despite being the youngest nation in South East Asia, Timor-Leste’s electoral management body has showcased its strength and resilience, owing to it prioritising a widely available, experienced staff who can handle electoral risks and challenges, rather than relying solely on formal risk management processes. What’s more, the processes for polling and counting have been designed to be remarkably simple and transparent; and has been ranked equal with Austria, Germany, France and Sweden in terms of “Electoral Process and Pluralism” in The Economist’s Democracy Index. 

Belgium: Chatbot helps to depolarise decision making
Flemish voters in Flanders, Belgium can benefit from a new chatbot in the run-up to elections. The Regeringsrobot is an AI model trained to answer questions on the performance of the regional government. Users of the app can view the work done by the incumbent government (through official documents if desired) vs the pledges the government has made. Any conclusions however are left for the user to decide. The creators of the large language model, Data Minded, say the app was created to provide an impartial look at political work. It also adds a source reference to all documents, ensuring users can always verify the answers themselves.
The Mayor


Resources to help run our elections

Old file folders books

Survey: Elections and social media: The battle against disinformation and trust issues
UNESCO and Ipsos surveyed 16 countries holding general elections this year. It asked respondents whether disinformation has impacted political life in their country and their concern over the influence of disinformation in the next campaign. The survey found that 87% of respondents had expressed concern about disinformation’s impact on upcoming elections in their country, with 47% being “very concerned”.

Toolkit: Guidance for organisations coordinating elections
The National Cyber Security Centre has released cyber security guidance for organisations involved in administering UK elections, including local authorities. It details ways for IT teams to manage the cyber security of Electoral Management System data and systems.

Resource: The Electoral Knowledge Network
This website is the world’s largest online repository and community of electoral knowledge. It provides comprehensive information and advice on all aspects of electoral processes from across the globe, as well as case studies, comparative data, an election calendar, and an extended learning platform.

Event: Local and mayoral elections 2024: Why they matter and what to look out for
The Institute for Government is hosting a public event the day before polls open for voters across England and Wales for the 2024 local and mayoral elections. The event will discuss the importance of these elections; thousands of councillors are up for election, alongside high profile metro mayor races across Greater London, the north and the midlands.



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