A new book on holding Elections During Emergencies and Crises is out now, and free to download. It seeks to learn the lessons from holding elections during the pandemic for future emergency situations.

Elections often have to be held in emergency situations. The Covid-19 pandemic was one of the most serious emergency situations that the world has seen. The rapid spread of the virus presented a huge humanitarian threat—but also an unparalleled challenge to electoral stakeholders globally seeking to protect electoral integrity during times of uncertainty.

Throughout the pandemic I have been working on a research project on covid and elections with Alistair Clark (Newcastle University), and Erik Asplund (International IDEA). Resources were published in real time, including blogs, comparative analysis, a website tracker and case studies. The aim was to inform decision making in real time.

The project has now culminated with a 724-page book, which was formally launched in the Swiss Parliament, at the parliamentary conference “Election in Times of Crisis” organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Elections During Emergencies and Crises (which is free to download and open access) identifies how the pandemic affected electoral integrity, what measures were put in place to protect elections and what worked in defending them. It brings together a comprehensive set of 26 country case studies to explore how elections were affected on the ground, what measures were put in place and what worked. These case studies are of elections which took place in the eye of the storm when practitioners and policymakers were operating under uncertainty and without the benefit of hindsight. 

To learn lessons in a more systematic way, this volume also provides a thematic analysis of electoral integrity during the pandemic using cross-national studies. This provides the big picture for policymakers, practitioners and academics looking back at the crisis. The volume therefore seeks to contribute towards the future development of policy and practice. However, it does so by using academic research methods and concepts which enable greater confidence in the policy lessons, as well as contributing directly to the scholarship on democracy, democratization and elections. The volume includes 11 areas of recommendation based on the evidence collected in this volume to protect electoral integrity in any future emergency situation.

The final declaration from the conference calls for action among policymakers and practitioners to engage in electoral reform to protect elections from future emergencies. The same day, I recorded a short interview with Monocle Radio, which you can listen to below.

Images below are from the South Korean 2020 elections – amongst the first major national elections to be held during the pandemic.

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