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Election Watchdogs

Watchdog Elections: Transparency, Accountability and Integrity

Eds. Pippa Norris and Alessandro Nai  

New York: Oxford University Press. June 2017.

Recent years have seen renewed interest in the potential capacity of transparency to improve democratic governance. Timely, accurate, granular and freely-available information is generally regarded as intrinsically valuable, as well as having many instrumental benefits. In the field of electoral governance, openness about the rules and procedures, outcomes, and decisions processes used by electoral authorities is widely assumed to build public trust, improve policy-making, and facilitate accountability. 

 In practice, however, the instrumental consequences of bureaucratic and political transparency are less clear-cut than many proponents claim and it remains difficult to establish whether, and under what conditions, greater information alone strengthens the accountability of government bodies to their own citizens, the quality of public services, or the compliance of these agencies with international norms and standards.

To understand these issues more fully, this book assesses the contemporary drive towards open electoral governance and  identifies several conditions predicted to determine the success of transparency policies in strengthening electoral integrity. To be effective, we argue that transparency ideally needs to be accompanied by accountability (identifying the underlying reasons for any incidents of electoral maladministration and responsibility for any flaws which occur) and also mechanisms ensuring compliance to improve performance (including the use of incentives and sanctions). It is also important to supplement the conventional chain of electoral accountability in democratic states by multiple channels - upwards towards the international community, horizontally among state agencies, and vertically downwards to civil society - designed to provide safeguards strengthening mechanisms of transparency, accountability, and compliance.


Preface and acknowledgments

List of tables and figures

I: Introduction

1. Transparency in electoral governance Pippa Norris

II: Upwards accountability to the international community

2. Professionalization or politicization? Why electoral observers diverge Craig Arceneaux and Anika Leithner  

3. International enforcement of electoral norms Daniela Donno  

4. Recommending reforms: what impact? Ferran Martinez I Coma

5. Election audits Chad Vickery and Erica Shein

III: Horizontal accountability to state actors

6. Open election management bodies Holly Ann Garnett  

7. The adjudication of electoral disputes by constitutional courts Armen Mazmanyan

8. Bureaucratic accountability and poll workers Alistair Clark and Toby James

IV: Downward accountability to civil society

9. NGO watchdogs Max Groemping

10. Election-watch journalism Alessandro Nai 

11. Electoral accountability to citizens Pippa Norris

V: Conclusions

12. What works? Watchdogs and electoral integrity. Pippa Norris and Alessandro Nai


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