Legal framework

Enhancing Fairness: Wisconsin Experiments with Nonpartisan Election Administration, 2001 – 2016

Author
Daniel Dennehy
Focus Area(s)
Core Challenge
Country of Reform
Abstract

In the wake of a 2001 scandal over the use of government employees to assist political campaigns, public interest groups in the US state of Wisconsin pushed for reform of the state ethics and elections boards, which had been slow to respond to complaints about misuse of resources and had declined to refer suspected lawbreakers for prosecution. During the 2002 election period, gubernatorial candidates of both main parties joined the call to insulate election administration from partisan pressure. Five years of negotiation came to fruition in 2007, when the state senate and assembly voted to create a consolidated election and ethics agency directed by retired judges. The first nonpartisan election administration authority of its type in the United States, the new agency, called the Government Accountability Board, replaced a system that had vested governance of elections in a commission made up of members of both major parties. But eight years later, political alignments shifted. Arguing that the board had overreached in its handling of certain sensitive cases, state legislators in 2015 voted to shutter the institution and reverted to the pre-2007 system run by representatives of the two major political parties. This case illuminates both the circumstances that can drive politicians to introduce a nonpartisan election management system and the challenges associated with the design, implementation, and sustainability of the approach. (Note that the lead reformer in this case, Michael G. Ellis, died in 2018.)  

Daniel Dennehy and staff drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in the United States from August through November 2022. Case published February 2023.

Defending the Vote: Estonia Creates a Network to Combat Disinformation, 2016–2020

Author
Tyler McBrien
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

Troubled by reports of disinformation and fake news in the United States and with regard to the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum vote, Estonia’s State Electoral Office in 2016 created an interagency task force to combat the influence of false messaging on its democratic process. To guide its work, the small staff of the State Electoral Office adopted a network approach by engaging partners from other government agencies, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, social media companies, and the press to identify and monitor disinformation and to work with the press to correct false statements. It also developed a curriculum that would help high school students improve their ability to separate fact from fiction. The collaboration largely succeeded in checking foreign interference. However, considerations involving free speech and censorship hobbled the task force’s efforts to restrain disinformation spread by domestic political parties and their supporters. This case illuminates how an electoral management body with limited staff capacity and a restricted mandate addressed a societywide disinformation challenge.

 

Tyler McBrien drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in September and October 2020. Case published December 2020.

A New Route to Development: Senegal’s Toll Highway Public-Private Partnership, 2003-2013

Author
Maya Gainer and Stefanie Chan
Country of Reform
Abstract

By the early 2000s, traffic in Senegal's capital city of Dakar had become unbearable. A skyrocketing number of vehicles strained the city's infrastructure, and traffic jams choked not only the major road into and out of town but also the region's economic growth. A new highway that would ease road congestion had been planned decades earlier but had been shelved because of the cost, complexity, and difficulty of financing. Abdoulaye Wade, elected president in 2000, sought a new solution: a public-private partnership. The plan called for a private company to contribute a portion of the cost of the highway's construction and then to maintain the highway-in exchange for toll revenues-with the rest of the up-front costs borne by the government. Executing the first such partnership of its kind in the region would not be easy. In addition to identifying and resolving complex technical and financial aspects of the partnership, government planners had to find ways to mitigate extensive social and environmental impacts of the project-including the displacement of 30,000 people from their homes and businesses. Senegal's newly created Agency for Investment Promotion and Major Works led the process of selecting the partner company, overseeing construction, and coordinating implementation with institutions ranging from Senegalese ministries to international development banks and community associations. Once it opened in August 2013, the Dakar-Diamniadio toll highway saw greater use than expected and alleviated congestion in the capital. But delays in the resettlement of people displaced by the project meant that some problems persisted into 2016.

Maya Gainer, ISS Research Specialist, and Stefanie Chan of Sciences Po's Paris School of International Affairs, drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Dakar, Senegal, and Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, in January 2016. This case study was funded by the French Development Agency. Case published May 2016.

Reaching for a New Approach: A Newcomer NGO Builds a Network to Fight the Modern Slave Trade, 2012-2018

Author
Ann Toews
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, governments and activist organizations around the world set their sights on ending the business of human trafficking. Many groups emerged to assist victims of the crime, but few made progress toward eliminating the roots of the problem. Duncan Jepson, a lawyer for a Hong Kong–based bank, said he believed too little was being done to spotlight the shadowy criminal networks that typically crossed government jurisdictions and sometimes included otherwise legitimate businesses. Jepson decided that disrupting the trade in human beings required new types of collaboration to unravel criminal networks and confront the organizations that abetted their activities. In 2012, he founded a nongovernmental organization called Liberty Asia, which aimed to bridge institutional gaps and approach human trafficking from an economic perspective by using increasingly robust anti-money-laundering tools that were at the disposal of banks and bank regulators. This case profiles Liberty Asia’s efforts and focuses on the challenges associated with coordinating many different types of organizations to confront a common challenge.

Ann Toews drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in March 2017 and January 2018. Case published March 2018.

A Tense Handover: The 2010 Presidential Transition in the Philippines

Author
Robert Joyce
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 2010, political tensions in the Philippines threatened a stable transfer of presidential power. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was at the end of her tenure when Benigno Aquino III, son of two national heroes, won election in May. During the campaign, Aquino had accused Arroyo of corruption and mismanagement. Animosity, lack of planning by the outgoing administration, poor government transparency, and a weak political party system created obstacles to an effective handover in a country with a recent history of instability. However, a dedicated corps of career civil servants, a small but significant degree of cooperation between the incoming and outgoing administrations, and thin but effective planning by the Aquino side allowed for a stable though bumpy transition. The handover highlighted the importance of institutionalizing the transition process to avoid conflict and facilitate uninterrupted governance.

 

Robert Joyce drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Manila during November 2014. Case published April 2015. 

Preparing to Draft a New Social Contract: Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly Election, 2011

Author
Daniel Tavana
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections faced a formidable task in May 2011. The newly created commission had five months to organize and implement elections for a National Constituent Assembly that would rewrite the Tunisian constitution. Commissioners moved quickly to build capacity and restore public faith in elections. The commission navigated the pressures of a compressed electoral calendar, an agitated electorate, and skepticism of the transitional government. The story of the group’s efforts to manage a successful election offers insight into how an electoral commission can take advantage of relationships with political parties, government, and the public to overcome inexperience in volatile circumstances. This case study focuses on commission staffing and recruitment, the creation of regional subsidiary bodies, and voter registration.

Mauro De Lorenzo

Ref Batch
Z
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
7
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Jennifer Widner
Name
Mauro De Lorenzo
Interviewee's Position
Senior Research Scholar and Deputy Director
Interviewee's Organization
Urbanization Project, NYU
Language
English
Place (Building/Street)
Innovations for Successful Societies
Town/City
Princeton, New Jersey
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Mauro De Lorenzo explains the refugee voting process in the first post-conflict Bosnian elections in 1996. He discusses the organizational structures involved in carrying out the mandate for refugee voting, including the steering group assigned specifically to the task. He explains that Sarajevo decision makers were concerned about the integrity and peacefulness of the vote inside Bosnia and not with refugee voters.   De Lorenzo discusses the legal framework of voter registration and the technical difficulties he encountered in creating a master list of registrants per the electoral law. He further describes the efforts in reaching hundreds of thousands of people across more than 70 countries or jurisdictions, printing enough ballots for those voters, distributing them, and getting them back on time. He outlines his group’s decision-making procedures, employing DHL to help establish a mail system, and running the steering group like a small start-up company, skirting formal processes to accomplish their goals. He also differentiates between refugee and diaspora voting. Finally, De Lorenzo discusses the complexity of the ballot and its implications for other countries considering refugee voting, especially since refugee voting can change election outcomes.

Transcript
Profile

At the time of this interview, De Lorenzo was a Senior Research Scholar and Deputy Director of the Urbanization Project at New York University's Stern School of Business.  Before joining NYU, De Lorenzo was Vice President at the John Templeton Foundation and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. From 2007-2010, De Lorenzo served in a pro bono capacity as the deputy to Senator Bill Frist on the board of directors of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. 

Previously, De Lorenzo served as Assistant to the Coordinator of the Refugee Elections Steering Group, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  He was an intern at the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) at the time, which became the Secretariat for the refugee elections component of the first Bosnian elections. As his presence around the office coincided with the impending crisis to implement the refugee-voting mandate, De Lorenzo became a member of the steering group assigned to make refugee voting happen. In 1997, he served as a refugee elections specialist with the Refugee Policy Group in Monrovia, Liberia.   De Lorenzo studies private sector-based approaches to political development in post-conflict countries, focusing on reforms that have made some developing countries attractive to foreign and domestic investment. He also researches Chinese investment and political influence outside the Pacific region, particularly in Africa; the design of policies that promote democratic accountability in aid-receiving countries; and refugee and humanitarian policies.

Full Audio File Size
60MB
Full Audio Title
Mauro de Lorenzo Interview

Petrit Gjokuta

Ref Batch
Q
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Petrit Gjokuta
Interviewee's Position
Director of National Registry of Voters
Interviewee's Organization
Central Electoral Commission
Nationality of Interviewee
Albanian
Place (Building/Street)
Central Electoral Commission
Town/City
Tirana
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Petrit Gjokuta opens his interview with a discussion of his work with the Central Election Commission in 2002. He states that the priority at the time was structural reform to the voter registration system, with the hopes of creating an electronic database. He explains the intricacies of the voter registration system at the time, which required voters to be tied to a region rather than an address. Gjokuta then discusses the legal accountability measures that surrounded Albanian elections at the time. He concludes his discussion by detailing a pilot project initiated through the Central Election Comission in 2004 to create a virtual map and registry of voters in Albania, adding that the new legal structure in 2005 greatly changed the role of the commission and the longevity of this program.
 
Profile

At the time of the interview Petrit Gjokuta was the director of the Information Technology Directory in Albania. From 2002 to 2005 he served as the director of the National Registry of Voters for the Central Election Commission. During his time with the Central Election Commission he was responsible for the reform of the voter registry.

Full Audio File Size
122 MB
Full Audio Title
Petrit Gjokuta Interview

Restoring Voters' Trust and Confidence: Albania's Central Election Commission, 2001-2006

Author
Michael Scharff
Country of Reform
Abstract

When he became head of Albania's Central Election Commission in February 2001, Ilirjan Celibashi faced a difficult task. Three years earlier a new constitution enshrined the commission as a non-political body charged with overseeing Albania's historically troubled elections. The permanent commission aimed to promote bipartisan cooperation and restore trust in the political system after violence gripped Albania's capital, Tirana, in the wake of 1996 national elections that the international community labeled as fraudulent.  During its first three years, the commission failed to achieve substantial reforms largely because of the partisan leadership of its chairman. When Celibashi, a former lawyer and judge, took over as head of the CEC, he had to overcome a highly politicized environment, and he set out to enact reforms to restore confidence in the commission and the electoral process. His reforms concentrated on four priority areas: staffing the CEC with competent people, ensuring transparency for the commission's activities, assembling voter lists and overseeing local election commissioners. In 2008, the political parties removed the commission from the constitution and reinstated it as a political body, erasing most of Celibashi's reforms. The case provides insight into how and why a window of opportunity opened for reform, explores how an individual was able to enact changes in a highly politicized environment and considers reasons why the changes were short-lived.   

Michael Scharff drafted this case study with the help of Amy Mawson on the basis of interviews conducted in Tirana, Albania, in June 2010. 

Associated Interview(s):  Petrit Gjokuta, Kathleen Imholz, Ylli Manjani

Nurturing Democracy in the Horn of Africa: Somaliland's First Elections, 2002-2005

Author
Richard Bennet and Michael Woldemariam
Country of Reform
Abstract
A decade after the former British protectorate of Somaliland severed ties with the rest of Somalia and declared independence, the fledgling state took the next steps toward democracy by holding direct elections. This transition occurred over the course of four years and three elections, during which the people of Somaliland elected district councils in 2002, a president and vice president in 2003, and a parliament in 2005. Somaliland’s democratic elections, the first in the Horn of Africa since 1969, were landmark achievements, as traditional social and political mechanisms legitimized the results and reinforced stability in the aftermath. The inexperienced and under-resourced National Electoral Commission successfully navigated the development of political parties, avoided the potential for violence when the margin of victory in the presidential election was only 80 votes, and managed an improved parliamentary election by introducing innovations that made the electoral process operate more smoothly. By avoiding violence and building consensus for peaceful, democratic transitions, Somaliland’s first elections highlighted a mix of traditional and democratic innovations conducted in a resource-poor environment.
 
Richard Bennet and Michael Woldemariam drafted this policy note on the basis of interviews conducted in Somaliland during October 2010. For a detailed look at the establishment of civilian government in Somaliland from 1991 to 2001, see the companion case study, “Navigating a Broken Transition to Civilian Rule.”
 
Associated Interview(s):  Adan Yusuf Abokor, Shukri Ismail, Mohamed Fadal