CDD Election Observation

Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections. Observers help build public confidence in the honesty of electoral processes. Observation can help promote and protect the civil and political rights of participants in elections. It can lead to the correction of errors or weak practices, even while an election process is still under way. It can deter manipulation and fraud, or expose such problems if they do occur.

When observers can issue positive reports, it builds trust in the democratic process and enhances the legitimacy of the governments that emerge from elections. Election observation by domestic groups encourages civic involvement in the political process. Following elections, reports and recommendations by observer groups can lead to changes and improvements in national law and practice.

Observation takes on heightened importance in post-conflict countries, in which groups that have been contesting on the battlefield may harbour strong suspicions of the political system and the election process. In such cases, observation makes an important contribution to peace-building, since creating confidence in elections can help promote national reconciliation and sound democratic practices. Election observation by CDDFactcheck or other intergovernmental organizations can be especially helpful when domestic observer organizations do not have sufficient strength or resources to organize effective monitoring efforts, or when the impartiality of domestic observers is in question, as may often be the case in post-conflict countries or new democracies.

However, international observers are typically less knowledgeable about the country they are observing, and a few may bring their own biases to the observation. In extraordinary circumstances international observers or supervisors in post-conflict countries may even be given the authority to certify or invalidate election results. Generally, however, observers have no power to interfere in the election process, but may only observe, assess and report.

Introducing the Nigeria Election Violence Tracker

The first issue of our fortnightly Nigeria Election Violence Tracker Situation Summary came out last week. Nigerians will go to the polls in 2023 amidst a host of economic, environmental, and security challenges. Many regions of the country are confronted with rampant insecurity. The northern states are engulfed in long-standing violence, with violent jihadist groups, criminal gangs, and other armed groups engaging in deadly attacks against local communities. In the south, civil unrest continues against the backdrop of ongoing violence between farmers and herders, and insurgent campaigns. Additionally, as campaigning for national and state elections ramps up, large rallies could heighten the existing security challenges and exacerbate partisan and factional tensions. Taken together, ongoing instability across Nigeria is therefore likely to affect the conduct of the upcoming elections.

In partnership with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), we have launched a fortnightly report that analyses the situation. The report looks at a general summary, political and security developments and a look at the various zones. The general tracker is updated to 28 October and will be reviewed ahead of the next report next week. Sign-up to the newsletter ahead of the next report next week.