By participating in free and fair elections, citizens cast their votes expecting the officials they elect to represent their interests in the best possible way. The voters’ choice grants legitimacy to the elected representatives and the parties they are part of. This legitimacy allows politicians to enact and amend legislation in the way they find most appropriate and suitable – usually along the lines of a published policy platform or manifesto. While the competition for political power is an essential element in ensuring the democratic diversity of interests, the election process can become exposed to malicious attempts to influence the result, including attempts from foreign powers to try and manipulate voters with false messaging as well as outright interference in the electoral count.
This reason alone should be enough to understand that protecting the integrity of elections is therefore a clear priority; both for individual states, but also for international organisations, such as the European Union. The threat has clearly been growing in the past couple of years, with a series of fairly blatant attempts to manipulate electoral processes in at least 18 countries, including the USA, Netherlands and the Ukraine.(more…)