The Backlash Against Election Monitors: How the Profession Can Respond

January 28, 2010
12:00 am - 12:00 am


Mr. Peter Novotny
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

Mr. Patrick Merloe
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

About the Event

The post-Soviet “color revolutions,” in which exit polling and election observation played key roles, have given rise to an authoritarian backlash against domestic and international election monitors. As repressive regimes have sought to counter the tide of democratization, they have increasingly obstructed election observers through intimidation, deregistering their organizations, and denying them accreditation, among other punitive actions. The Commonwealth of Independent States, for example, has created and supported increasingly partisan election observation missions to achieve their political ends. In response to such developments, election observers have started global initiatives to uphold universal and nonpartisan standards of conduct in the field. In pursuit of democratic reforms, there is a need for strict impartiality and credibility on the part of election observers: principles of nonpartisanship are inextricably linked to safeguarding the electoral process, maintaining governmental accountability, and instilling public confidence in political institutions.

In his presentation, election monitor Peter Novotny drew on his extensive experience in Eurasia to examine the developments in domestic and international election observation, monitoring methods and practices, and the complex challenges observers face in a changing international environment. His presentation was followed by comments by Patrick Merloe.

About the Speakers

Mr. Peter Novotny is program director of Obcianske Oko (Civic Eye), a Slovak election-monitoring organization. He has coordinated ten election-monitoring projects in Slovakia and has observed elections in 15 countries including Georgia, Belarus, Egypt, Ukraine, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan. In 2004, he was elected secretary-general of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), in which capacity he coordinated one of the largest international observation missions during the 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine. During his fellowship, Mr. Novotny is examining nonpartisan election-monitoring and voter-education programs in the United States and Eurasia. He hopes to develop an NGO election toolkit that will offer information, examples of best practices, and case studies for use by nonpartisan observer groups around the world.

Mr. Patrick Merloe is a senior associate and director of electoral programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He has worked on domestic and international election observation for over 15 years and has led or participated in over 150 NDI delegations and assistance teams to more than 50 countries.

Powerpoint Presentation :: PDF