HKS Authors

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Many malpractices generate flawed elections which fail to meet international standards of electoral integrity, including issues such as fraud, malpractice, vote-rigging, ballot-stuffing, and voter suppression. Determining when, where, and why elections succeed or fail is a matter of growing concern for the international community—yet to date scholars and practitioners have been hindered by lack of reliable, credible, and consistent evidence which could be used to compare the quality of elections around the world. This paper presents the first results of a new pilot study, based on an expert survey of Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) applied to 20 countries. This data facilitates comparison of an overall standardized 100-point PEI index for each contest, or the results can be examined in more fine-grained detail on eleven dimensions of electoral integrity, or for each of the separate 49 items. The PEI index demonstrates high levels of external validity, internal validity, and legitimacy. The paper concludes that, when triangulated with other evidence, PEI can address many research issues, such as how best to classify electoral autocracies, as well as proving useful for policymakers concerned with evaluating “what works” to strengthen electoral integrity.


Norris, Pippa, Richard W. Frank, and Ferran Martinez i Coma. "Assessing the Quality of Elections." Journal of Democracy 24.4 (October 2013): 124-135.