Thursday, 28 August 2014

2015 Electoral Integrity Graduate Student Essay Competition - Call for Papers



Co-sponsors: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA); Electoral Integrity Project (EIP; Harvard University & University of Sydney)

Description: Submissions are invited for the 2015 Electoral Integrity graduate student essay competition.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Monday 2 March 2015

The award will be presented to the author (or authors) of an outstanding graduate student essay written in English based on the paper’s significant contribution to the theory and practice of electoral integrity.

Theme: Recent decades have seen growing attempts by the international community and domestic stakeholders to strengthen electoral integrity. Yet their quality remains problematic, with multiple flaws and failures evident throughout the electoral cycle.

The theme for this year’s essay competition is in line with a workshop on electoral integrity held prior to the 2015 APSA annual meeting in San Francisco. This workshop, sponsored by EIP and the APSA Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior organized section (EPOVB), is titled “What Works? Strengthening Electoral Integrity” and it will explore the following question:

What the most effective policies and types of strategic interventions which rectify common electoral problems and thereby improve the quality of elections?

A wide range of policies are available, including the following types of initiatives:

  1. Legal frameworks: Reforms to constitutions, legal and procedural frameworks governing elections, for example campaign finance reform or the diffusion of gender quota laws designed to produce more inclusive parliaments
  2. Governance: Building the capacity, human resources, and administrative infrastructure of electoral authorities, including training EMB staff, auditing agencies, reform of civilian security forces
  3. Technologies: Implementing electronic and internet voter registration and balloting, the use of surveillance technologies, and the deployment of social media, such as crowd-sourcing
  4. Monitoring: Deploying international electoral observers, domestic election watch NGOs and party observers, using PEI and human rights indicators, and scrutinizing results based on techniques of forensic analysis
  5. Transparency: deploying exit polls, ‘parallel vote’ tabulations, and strengthening campaign news reporting by the independent media
  6. Accountability: improving legal adjudication processes of judicial appeal and parliamentary oversight of electoral authorities
  7. Campaigning: expanding the capacity for candidates and political parties to build grassroots organizations and campaign effectively, exemplified by training in mobilizing networks, fund-raising, public communications, and policy analysis for the pool of aspirants for elected office, for nominated candidates and for elected politicians
  8. Public reform campaigns:  Mobilizing political activism by political parties and civic society organizations, opposition boycotts, and peaceful mass demonstrations.
  9. International pressures: Using aid conditionality,  international economic sanctions, and diplomatic intermediation
  10. International standards: Strengthening global conventions, treaties, and guidelines on electoral rights in international and regional inter-governmental bodies, especially concerning the lack of appropriate standards for regulating campaign finance and campaign broadcasting,
  11. Evaluation methods: how do we know what works?
Leading multilateral agencies and bilateral donors in the development community have provided technical assistance and have sought to identify ‘best practices’ from case-studies and evaluation reports. Electoral authorities considering new types of intervention have also commissioned consultants to produce applied policy research reports, such as ways to improve comprehensive and accurate voter registers, develop performance indicators, or deploy biometric technologies. A growing body of scholarly research has analyzed the effects of international election monitoring on electoral fraud in polling stations.

Nevertheless, little is known with any confidence about the pros and cons, and the systematic impact of many common types of interventions seeking to address a wide range of problems throughout the whole electoral cycle. That is why this year’s essay competition welcomes papers addressing these and other related policy relevant issues.

Method: Essays can be based on any methods, including cross-national comparisons, case-studies, field and lab experiments, public and elite surveys, formal theory, content analysis, analysis of Big Data, and participant observation studies. Applicants can be from any social science discipline.

Application instructions: Papers are welcome from students enrolled in a graduate program (at Masters Level, Doctoral Level, or equivalent) at any time from 1 January to 31 December 2014 at an accredited university, regardless of gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, or citizenship.
To be considered, all applications must include:
  • A paper written in English should be between 25 to 50 double-spaced pages, inclusive of reference matter;
  •  A cover page listing all the authors, contact details, title and a short 100 word abstract;
  •  A curriculum vitae; and,
  •  A photocopied document demonstrating your student affiliation during 2014.
Co-authored papers will be considered for the award, but only if all authors were graduate students during 2014. The winning paper will be selected by a three-person award committee.

Submissions must be received by 2 March 2015. The award recipient will be notified by 1 May 2015.

Award details: The author (or authors) of the winning paper will receive an award of $750 and a further award (up to US$1,000) for the costs of attending the award ceremony at an international meeting. The 2015 award will be presented at the American Political Science Association annual meeting in San Francisco, CA, 2 September 2015. The award recipient will also have the opportunity to present their paper at a relevant policy-makers conference (to be determined in consultation with International IDEA).

Application submission: Please submit applications by email to electoralintegrityessay@gmail .com or by mail to:

Electoral Integrity Project
Department of Government and International Relations
259 Merewether Building (H04)
University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Websites: /

Visiting opportunities at EIP - Call for applications closing soon!

Have you been downloading our publications and data files? Do you enjoy reading our books and blog posts? Have you attended one of our research seminars, conference workshops or panels? And would you be keen to spend a few months in Australia’s most beautiful city?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes’ and you are interested in, or already working on electoral integrity, do not miss out on the rest of this blog post! 

The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) in a nutshell: EIP is a 5-year project that was launched in conjunction with the IPSA World Congress in 2012. The project explores three key issues: 
  1. When do elections meet international standards of electoral integrity? 
  2. What happens when elections fail to do so? 
  3. What can be done to mitigate these problems?
Read more about the EIP here

Each semester the EIP welcomes visitors to its project offices based in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

The deadline for visits planned during the 1st and 2nd semesters of 2015 is September 1st.

There are several visiting opportunities:
  1. Several visiting research fellowships are available for senior scholars working on issues of electoral integrity. You would be part of the research team, and we would ask you to write and present a new research paper relating to electoral integrity and designed for publication in a scholarly journal or book, as well as being published on the project website. We offer remuneration of AUD$15,000, and you can apply if you have a doctorate and hold a full-time academic teaching or research appointment in Political Science or a related field. Find out more about selection criteria and the application process here.

  2. A limited number of resident internships are also available for advanced level under-graduates and graduate students, for a period of three to twelve months. Remuneration is offered of AUD$1,000 per month as well as up to $1,700 towards the cost of a round-trip economy flight to Sydney, designed to defray the partial costs of your stay. You would be expected to work up to 20 hours a week on project-related research, including data collection, project administration, publication editing and event coordination, under the direction of the Project Manager. You would have the opportunity to participate in research seminars, reading groups and colloquium talks with the Department of Government and international Relations at the University of Sydney. You would also write a research paper on a topic relating to electoral integrity, designed to be posted as a working paper on the project website and as a blog post. Find out more about selection criteria and the application process here.
  3. A few resident unpaid visiting positions are available for advanced level doctoral students registered for a PhD at another university institution. You can apply for a period of three to twelve months, and you would have the opportunity to participate in research seminars, reading groups and colloquium talks with the Department of Government and international Relations at the University of Sydney. You would also write a research paper on a topic relating to electoral integrity, designed to be posted as a working paper on the project website and as a blog post. Find out more about selection criteria and the application process, here.

Have we convinced you? Complete the online application form.

Would you like additional information? Read more about EIP and visiting opportunities here.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us (note, replace ‘at’ by @). 

APSA 2014 is around the corner!

From 28 September to 1 October more than 415 conference participants of over three dozen countries will attend the 2014 Australian Political Studies Association annual meeting at the University of Sydney. 

Conference participants will have the opportunity to attend all-day interactive thematic workshops, over one hundred stream panels, several special plenary sessions and multiple major social events!

This year’s general theme is ‘Democracy, Autocracy and Elections’, and we want to draw your attention to a few key events.

We are delighted with the addition of ‘Docos for Politicos’, a film series devoted to a retrospective of the documentary films of Eugene Jarecki: award-winning filmmaker, public thinker on international affairs, author, and one of only two people to have twice won the Sundance Grand Jury prize for documentary. 

These special sessions will screen four of his major documentary films and feature a live interactive discussion with the director and producer, moderated by Professor James Der Derian from the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) at the University of Sydney.

More information is available here

Professor John Keane from the Sydney Democracy Network is involved in two fascinating special sessions. On Monday 29 September, Lance Bennett will speak about "Democratic Mobilization in the Digital Age" from 09.00-10.30am, and on Tuesday 30 September Professor Keane will lead a Q&A with Professor Marian Simms about "Funding Opportunities with the Australian Research Council".  

We would also like to highlight two pre-APSA thematic research workshops on electoral integrity that are to take place on Sunday 28 September, and which will offer scholars and practitioners alike an opportunity to exchange ideas and build their networks.

The workshop on “Challenges of Electoral Integrity in Asia-Pacific will review cutting-edge research on electoral integrity in the Asia-Pacific region, aiming to strengthen working relations between experts and identify challenges and opportunities for research and teaching in this emerging sub-field. The workshop will cover topics including comparative institutions, political violence, political finance, and media and communication technologies and is not to be missed!

The EIP’s Money, Politics and Transparency project will host an authors' workshop on Comparative Political Finance. It is meant for those working on a new executive report on Comparative Political Finance Worldwide, which is to be released online and designed primarily for practitioners. With this publication and a subsequent longer book-length volume meant for scholars, students and policymakers, the project aims to explore the workings of the ‘political finance regime’. This is the set of public policies, legal frameworks, and procedural rules, institutions, court decisions, and social norms that regulate the role of money in politics, .e.g. the funding of political parties, candidates, election campaigns, and elected representatives.

And last but not least, on Monday 29 September from 6.00-8.00pm, participants will have the opportunity to get acquainted and mingle at a cocktail reception with drinks and canapés, hosted at one of Sydney’s most stunning venues: the Stranger’s Dining Room at the New South Wales Parliament. This event features an official welcome to Sydney and a brief speech by the well-known ABC political commentator Antony Green!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Namibia votes in November 2014
By Ferran Martinez i Coma
The Electoral Integrity Project, University of Sydney

A conference “Detecting and Deterring Electoral Fraud and Malpractices in Africa” was held in Windhoek (Namibia) from 12 to 15 May.  The event was organized by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research and it brought together a combination of Africanist scholars and practitioners. Namibians will held Presidential and Legislative elections in November. The South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) has been in power since Namibia independence in 1990, constantly increasing its advantage with its competitors.

The first session focused on concepts of fraud and malpractice. Hermann Thiel, Country Director of IFES in Jordan, building in previous works from his colleagues, gave a very clear conceptualization of fraud and malpractices. He then graphically presented a typology of the problems that may happen considering the intensity of the impact of the problem and the vulnerability. Discussants Roger Southall, from the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), and Denis Kadima, the Executive Director of EISA (South Africa) gave their respective insights. Southall described different types of fraud and he also highlighted the absence of comparative studies on gerrymandering.   

In the second session, different participants exposed clear manifestations of electoral malpractice and fraud. David Coltart, from Zimbabwe, highlighted the problems with the registry; Tom Mboya mentioned problems of voter disenfranchisement in Kenya while Professor Alexander Kaakyire Frempong from Ghana exposed the problem of registration of foreigners. There were also interventions covering Nigeria and South Africa.

The third session was on detecting the presence of fraud and malpractice. I presented the results of PEI and highlighted that problems of fraud and electoral malpractice may emerge at any point of the electoral cycle. I also emphasized the problems on finance and media while presenting the results of PEI in a regional comparative perspective. Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira, from Oxford University, presented the main question of his dissertation –namely, why did politicians in advanced democracies stopped rigging elections- and with his theoretical framework he presented his research on Ghana. Halfdan’s state of the art work mixes quantitative with qualitative analyses.

We closed the first day with a public event on electoral integrity of Africa that was open to the public. Besides the presenters, Dr. Paul Isaak, Director of Elections of the Electoral Commission of Namibia gave the keynote address on the Namibian elections. After the presentations, the audience engaged in a very lively and rich conversation with Dr. Isaak.

The second day was oriented towards improving electoral integrity. In the first session, Dr Seema Shah, currently working as an analyst at  AfriCOG (Kenya), showed us how the argument of the peaceful elections held in Kenya last year was used to silence the fraud in many stances. Shah’s uses Pippa Norris concept of electoral integrity as well as Judith Kelley’s work on monitor observation. Shah and her team have exposed numerous problems of the elections in Kenya. Her work is a beautiful application of academic concepts into real world situations.

In the second section, Ushahidi founder, Daudi Were, explained how he and his colleagues decided to create a platform to expose and improve how the elections were conducted. Ushahidi’s approach is through very simple technology that is not only been used in elections but also in humanitarian catastrophes. One of the principle of Ushahidi is making all voices count and their approach can be extremely useful for crowdsourcing studies.

The last and finals session was devoted to propose suggestions and ideas to be implemented in Namibia. The ideas proposed were divided for the short, medium and long term, since Namibians will go to vote on November 2014.

On the short term the most relevant suggestions were: make clear and public the playing field: at this point, Namibians do not know under which electoral formula will be voting; draft and publish an observation guideline to be shared with the different Namibian civil society groups; use Ushaidi’s knowledge to prepare a platform for citizens.

On the medium and the long term, the focus was on voter education as well on training of the different actors involved in the Namibian elections. 

The EIP project will follow the general and presidential elections in Namibia and next year we will be able to report about their 2014 elections. 

Further information: