Measuring electoral integrity: Using practitioner knowledge to assess elections

Holly Ann Garnett, Toby S. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The integrity of the electoral process is vitally important for the delivery of democracy. However, there is an ongoing debate about how the integrity of elections can be measured. This article makes the theoretical and normative case for the use of practitioner knowledge. Unlike public and expert perceptions, electoral officials have unique practice-based, experiential, tacit knowledge about the conduct of elections, and more insights about the technical aspects of administration of which the public and even experts may be unaware. The article presents results from the first ever cross-national datasets based on a survey of electoral officials in 31 countries. Practitioner assessments are then compared to expert and public assessments, the traditional methods for assessing electoral integrity, and are found to be a reliable measure of electoral integrity. Analysis also shows that gender does shape practitioner assessments, suggesting that some electoral malpractices might be gendered in nature. Job satisfaction is also significant, which suggests that it should be controlled for in future studies. Overall, this study is significant for identifying the utility of a new method for assessing electoral integrity and provides important lessons for how they should be surveyed in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-367
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date29 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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