State institutions may be tasked with monitoring the media environment around elections.
This may be with the goal of determining if the campaigning rules and allocations are being followed, with penalties for transgressions.
Historically, this was an activity focused on traditional media –broadcast and print– however this may now expand to include the online space.
This role is assumed typically by the election management body or a media regulator.
The formal monitoring of the election information environment can be a means to protect the information environment and enforce the rules as per the legislative framework. It will allow the appropriate authorities to support the level playing field that parties should adhere to by providing the means to enforce election campaign rules. These may include:
The activity may also review media-outlet online content or other publishers.
Support for these activities may include engagement of the governing legislation or regulations, advice on the operationalization of work, strategic communications guidance, provision of equipment or the development of technology to support this work. Where the authorities have supported a code of conduct, they may be called upon to monitor the media to assess compliance. Of course, there are other entities that can choose to conduct a form of non-binding media monitoring, such as election observation missions or civil society groups; however such efforts shall be considered outside the scope of this tool. These bodies may be established as independent authorities in order to improve trust in their findings and insulate them from political pressure.
Efforts need to be taken to ensure that any algorithms that are used to crawl the Internet support an impartial picture of the situation, with consideration of language challenges. The strategic communications plan that the body established should be attuned to the context risks.
Expanding monitoring to include the online space is important so that youth participation can be addressed in the process. Within this, youth should be considered in their various dimensions, as creators of political content and as potential targets of harmful or incendiary material. Youth may be the best placed individuals to conduct the review of online content.
Elections potentially pose particular concerns for marginalized groups and women, whereby they are often a target of harassment, information pollution and on- and offline violence. The allocation of resources, monitoring methodology and technology setup should take this into account.
By engaging a diverse set of content reviewers, the authority is best placed to understand concerns from across the country and all spectrum of persons. The inclusion of vulnerable communities and all linguistic groups is vital to being aware of content that is particularly at risk of instigating violence.
While it is difficult to truly advise upon costings without a clear vision of a particular project, some factors to consider include:
This resource combines the collective experience of the organizations belonging to the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS), namely IFES, IRI and NDI. This living project provides an outline of what’s being done to address the challenge in key areas and a searchable inventory of the organizations around the world engaged in making the digital landscape safe for democracy
The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network is the world’s largest online community and repository of electoral knowledge. It provides comprehensive information and specialised advice on any aspect of electoral processes