There is little evidence to show that election monitoring or voter education consistently leads to a reduction in levels of election-related violence. On the contrary, some cross-country quantitative studies suggest that in certain contexts, election monitoring may actually promote violence. This report outlines a number of methodological difficulties with establishing a general argument about these links, identifying at least five main reasons why they are difficult to measure systematically:
- Election monitoring and voter education programmes are rarely designed solely or explicitly to reduce election violence and therefore it is usually not recorded.
- The assignment of monitors or education programmes is not random.
- Elections in which there is a lot at stake are more likely to be violent, and more likely to be monitored (and probably more likely to attract donor funding for voter education).
- Election observation is often poorly implemented, making it difficult to assess the violence reducing potential of these interventions.
- Many electoral assistance programmes involve a range of interventions (such as election monitoring, supporting the creation of electoral commissions, support for election security and support for the adjudication of elections), which makes it difficult to trace impacts back to election monitoring alone.
This report also finds contradictory evidence on the question of which election monitoring strategies are most effective, and little analysis of comparative assessments about the relative value of voter education versus election monitoring. Finally, the report highlights limited analysis of the degree to which different voter education strategies are more or less appropriate in particular environments.