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: /


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