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Role of EMBs in electoral law reform

Electoral law reform processes present EMBs with a series of dilemmas. When should they and when should they not engage in such processes? EMBs are first and foremost mandated to manage elections. At the same time, the EMBs sit on valuable information about how electoral laws play out in practice and have an interest in ensuring that an adequate legal framework is put in place to facilitate the organization of elections.

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What – if any – should be the role of an EMB in electoral law reform?

  • Major – It should be able to – inter alia – initiate, propose, draft, advocate and provide input into any part of the reform process.
  • Limited – To benefit from the expertise of the EMB, but not to compromise its independence, the EMBs role should be limited to participation in the consultation process.
  • None – Legal reform is a political process and any involvement beyond implementation will jeopardize the perceived independence of the EMB.
  • It depends – The role of the EMB in legal reform is heavily contingent on the context and history of the country in which it operates. Overall, high trust, low conflict, stable democracies provide a good basis for high involvement by the EMB while low trust, high conflict fragile states do not.

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