Promoting Legal Frameworks for Democratic Elections

* Why should political parties, candidates and citizens analyze legal frameworks for elections and advocate for democratic improvements?
* How can inclusiveness, transparency and accountability be incorporated into legal frameworks for elections?
* How do human rights obligations provide the basis for democratic elections?
* What are the key criteria for analyzing legal frameworks for elections?
* What considerations are needed when drafting legal frameworks for democratic elections?
* What are the key international agreements and court cases concerning democratic elections?

Promoting Legal Frameworks for Democratic Elections: An NDI Guide for Developing Election Laws and Law Commentaries, written by Pat Merloe, is a tool for addressing these and other questions posed by political party, civic and governmental actors.  It is a guide for designing NDI assistance as well as for those engaged in the law reform process.  (It is available on the NDI website through this link:
Section One addresses the interests of parties, candidates, those supporting and opposing referenda and civil society groups in tackling electoral reform.  It also touches on the international community’s role in assisting those seeking to improve legal frameworks for elections.  Section Two, which is co-published by the American Bar Association as the lead chapter in its new book “International Election Principles,” provides the grounding in human rights law for the requirements for democratic elections (with appendices on international court cases human rights instruments).  Section Three outlines the essential elements of building an open process for drafting and enacting a proper legal framework and touches on each main element of an electoral framework.  Section Four provides a detailed checklist for analyzing, drafting and/or developing recommendations concerning the legal framework for elections.  It covers 16 headings about the main framework elements, presents goals that each should achieve in promoting democratic elections along with criteria/indicators to help measure whether the framework promotes those goals and over 200 questions to consider when making an overall evaluation.
Field representatives and DC staff should be aware of the guide and how it can be used to advance the activities of our partners and others seeking to improve the democratic quality of their election process.  The guide is already being put to work in Albania, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mongolia and Nigeria, and feedback from initial distribution is very positive.