Free and fair elections are an important aspect of political freedom. Elections are generally viewed as the most important form of political participation in modern representative democracies. They are a vital part of democratic processes, including political transitions, implementation of peace agreements and consolidation of democracy. However, there is more to democracy than holding elections. If the election process is corrupted, the democracy based on the election may be considered a fraud. Democracies must be ever vigilant to protect this foundational element of political freedom from the dangers arrayed against it. Threats such as ballot stuffing on election day, digital election interference, disinformation campaigns, media manipulation, voter intimidation, bribery, regulatory obstacles, and the jailing of political opposition figures can all work to the benefit of autocratic leaders and to the detriment of the democratic process.
This panel will feature experts in electoral politics in three regions around the world – Eastern Europe and Russia (Mike Smeltzer, Freedom House), the Middle East and North Africa (Elizabeth Reiter Dettmer, International Foundation for Electoral Systems), and the United States (David B. Ebner, University of Delaware). They will discuss elections in these regions, the threats posed to free and fair elections, and what is being done to protect the electoral processes in these areas.