There are a number of causes of election-related violence, which can occur at different stages of the electoral cycle. Dealing with this violence very much depends on understanding these causes and tailoring measures to address them.
This report draws on guidance material, evaluation literature and empirical studies to provide a brief overview of measures to prevent and address electoral violence, and outline lessons learned. There are a wide range of measures available to prevent and reduce electoral violence:
- Election-related security and security sector reform
- Election monitoring
- Media monitoring
- Voter education and public awareness
- Civil society and public engagement initiatives
- Legal framework reforms
- Electoral management bodies
- Electoral dispute resolution
- Social and economic support
- Other measures: Including trust building, an inclusive process and building on local ownership. Timing of elections is important; elections that take place soon after civil war can lead to a resumption of conflict.
Emerging literature on armed groups and elections highlights the relationship between armed groups and political forces, and the access of armed groups to independent resources. These determine whether armed groups are maintained by the government, eliminated, or continue despite opposition. Subnational conflict often relates to perceived injustice, marginalisation, and a sense of threatened identity. Such conflict can be ethnopolitical in nature, where the type of electoral system can have an impact on electoral violence levels.