Infographic: The Election Cycle
When people think about elections, they mostly focus on voting. While election day is certainly a critical component, it is important to view elections as a long-term “cycle” in which the periods before and after the election equally contribute to the credibility of the process. For example in the pre-election period, if a candidate engages in widespread vote buying or if the election management body fails to educate voters, the overall integrity of the election is compromised.
Additionally, because elections are increasingly subject to international scrutiny, political actors seeking to manipulate election outcomes often carry out violations before or after the voting takes place when fewer eyes are watching. For these reasons and more, it is crucial to watch for violations throughout the entire election cycle.
While it’s a good sign that no malfeasance is witnessed on election day, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the election is completely fair. Interference with a free election could occur at various stages of the election cycle, sometimes long before or after election day. Determining the overall quality of the process involves witnessing what happens all throughout the election cycle from the registration of candidates, to campaigning, to election day, to the resolution of complaints.