Voter registration challenges electoral integrity: new report

18 October 2017

The Electoral Integrity Project's mid-year report compares 260 elections across 161 countries.

A ballot paper is slipped into a ballot box in France. Image: Arnaud Jaegers

Many countries such as the United Kingdom have pushed to make the process of voter registration easier and more inclusive. But these initiatives have also generated concern about the security and integrity of the voting process. How common are these problems?

More than half of elections worldwide were found to have problems in the voter registration process, according to a report by the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) at the University of Sydney and Harvard University.

The Electoral Integrity Project’s (EIP) mid-year report compares 260 elections across 161 countries. It adds data on elections from 18 countries held between January and June 2017.


Challenges arise from inclusion, measured in the report by whether some citizens were not listed on the register, and from security, measured by whether some ineligible electors were registered. These were found to be interrelated problems in many countries.

“Major problems in the voter register can weaken its accuracy, such as out-of-date records, lack of transparency, and lack of inclusion – undermining public confidence in elections,” said Professor Pippa Norris, EIP founding director.

“Our research shows such challenges can occur in affluent and well-established democracies, such as the United States, as well as poorer countries lacking professional Electoral Management Bodies.”

The key findings of the EIP’s mid-year update include:

  • worldwide, elections in poorer African countries such as Ethiopia, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea scored worst in the report
  • by contrast, the Nordic region had the best quality elections
  • of the 19 elections held between January and June 2017, the highest electoral integrity ratings were in the Netherlands, France, the UK, and Timor-Leste
  • the greatest challenges for electoral integrity worldwide are campaign finance, media coverage, and voter registration.

This findings are drawn from a survey of 2,961 experts providing perceptions of electoral integrity. The cumulative study covers 161 countries holding 260 national elections from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2017. The mid-year update reports on an additional 19 elections in 18 countries, with the inclusion of France, the Bahamas, and Timor-Leste for the first time.


Luke O'Neill

Media and Public Relations Adviser (Humanities and Social Sciences)