Deliberative Democracy and Electoral Management Bodies: The Case of Australian Electoral Commissions
Election Law Journal, Volume 12, No. 4, 2013
16 Pages Posted: 6 May 2014
Date Written: 2013
This article examines how the principles of deliberative democracy should apply to electoral management bodies through the case study of Australian electoral commissions. It focuses on three functions of the commissions (administering electoral rules; making electoral rules; and fostering democratic deliberation regarding electoral rules); it also grounds its analysis in the principles of independence, impartiality and fairness, and accountability. The article argues that, as decision makers administering electoral rules, electoral commissions should generally be subject to the principles of deliberative democracy in relation to their decisions but not in relation to their decision-making processes. As decision-makers making electoral rules, however, the commissions should be subject to these principles both in relation to their decisions and the decision-making processes. Electoral commissions should also be active participants in the legislative process of electoral rule making but should exercise caution when participating in the executive process of rule-making. Lastly, electoral commissions can perform a valuable public role by fostering democratic deliberation of electoral rules by enhancing the deliberation occurring in other institutional contexts such as the legislature and the media, and by auspicing their own forums of deliberation.
Keywords: electoral commission, democracy, electoral
JEL Classification: K00, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation