Electoral violence research to boost security, deliver new tools


June 22, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC—A groundbreaking new project on electoral violence will deliver innovative tools and research to support electoral management bodies and development practitioners in keeping elections secure, Creative Associates International announced.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the three-year “Explaining and Mitigating Electoral Violence” project will delve deep into factors contributing to electoral violence and research best practices for preventing, managing and mediating it.

“As this will be an unprecedented global study of electoral violence, it will provide researcher and practitioners with insights into such violence which were not possible before, because of the limitations on available data,” says Jeff Fischer, Senior Electoral Advisor at Creative. “There have been other global studies of electoral violence, but none have been conducted with such a comprehensive scope and methodology.”

Fischer will lead Creative’s Elections project team. Creative is partnering with the University of Glasgow, the project leader, which is headed by electoral integrity expert Professor Sarah Birch.

In 2014, elections from Thailand to Bangladesh to Afghanistan were marred by violence. In Burundi, police and protesters clashed violently in April in the lead up to the country’s 2015 presidential elections.

At all phases of the electoral cycle—from campaigns to tallying votes—electoral violence can break out, threatening citizen security and tainting the integrity of a country’s democratic process.

The project team will develop an interactive web-based early warning tool that allows practitioners to identify the warning signs of electoral violence before it ignites.

Through the project website, practitioners will be able to access information, briefs and academic publications on best approaches to prevent and manage potential threats to electoral security.

World’s largest electoral violence database

The Explaining and Mitigating Electoral Violence project will support electoral management bodies, conflict resolution practitioners and donors, from the United Nations to the Organization of American States, by aggregating and analyzing data from elections globally in which violence occurred.

Previous electoral violence databases have been limited in scope due to challenges collecting accurate and complete data.

“Data on electoral violence can be difficult to obtain,” says Fischer. “This project will provide the most complete profile of such violence when compared to other studies. The databases will serve as an archive of information to better understand the root causes of electoral violence and develop measure to prevent, manage, or mediate it.”

The resulting database will be the largest global database of electoral violence to date—made possible by integrating sophisticated “big data” research methods that catalogue specific incidents with more traditional political science research analytics.

The database will include both a global macro-level dataset of electoral violence as well as dataset based on incidents of electoral violence, tracked largely though social media and digital news.

Electoral integrity expertise

Creative’s Electoral Education and Integrity team is a leader in international electoral monitoring and security, having conducted electoral security assessments in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Colombia, Haiti, Guatemala, the Philippines, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Creative’s lead co-investigator on the project, Jeff Fischer, was the chief author of two U.S. Agency for International Development handbooks on Best Practices in Electoral Security and an Electoral Security Framework.

Birch, the principal investigator spearheading the University of Glasgow’s efforts on the project, is the creator of the Index of Electoral Malpractice.

The Explaining and Mitigating Electoral Violence project presents a promising opportunity and opens doors further collaboration between the two organizations in electoral security and conflict prevention, Fischer says.

About Creative Associates International

Creative Associates International works with underserved communities by sharing expertise and experience in education, economic growth, governance and transitions from conflict to peace.

Based in Washington, D.C., Creative has active projects in more than 15 countries. Since 1977, it has worked in nearly 90 countries and on almost every continent. Recognized for its ability to work rapidly, flexibly and effectively in conflict-affected environments, Creative is committed to generating long-term sustainable solutions to complex development problems.

Started by four enterprising women with diverse backgrounds, Creative has grown to become one of the leaders among the U.S. private sector implementers of global development projects. Creative is minority owned and operated.

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