The Rise of Electoral Management Bodies: Diffusion and Effects

30 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 23 Mar 2021

See all articles by Malcolm Langford

Malcolm Langford

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law

Rebecca Schiel

School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs at the University of Central Florida

Bruce M. Wilson

University of Central Florida

Date Written: March 11, 2021

Abstract

Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) are commonly established to increase electoral legitimacy by designing, implementing and/or enforcing rules surrounding nominations, polling, voting, and tabulation. Globally however, EMB design, governance, and efficacy vary considerably. Utilizing four EMB data sources, this paper asks (1) to what extent do EMBs form a new pillar of constitutional governance; and (2) how effective are they in managing and increasing the legitimacy of elections? We begin by detailing the global diffusion of EMBs, temporally and geographically, together with trends in governance methods, constitutionalization, and degrees of autonomy and capacity. We then turn to examining the extent to which existing EMBs are effective, empirically testing a global sample of states on two measures associated with legitimacy. Four results of our analyses stand out. First, independent EMBs are most abundant in democratizing regions including Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. Second, while EMBs are increasing, only a slight majority of states enshrine these institutions in their constitutions. Third, while independent EMBs are the most common systems, autonomous bodies are largely found in democracies. Finally, EMBs characterized by greater degrees of autonomy and capacity are associated with lower levels of both electoral violence and concerns regarding electoral legitimacy.

Keywords: Electoral Management Bodies, Elections, Democracy, Autonomy, Capacity

Suggested Citation

Langford, Malcolm and Schiel, Rebecca and Wilson, Bruce M., The Rise of Electoral Management Bodies: Diffusion and Effects (March 11, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3802646 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3802646

Malcolm Langford

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law ( email )

P.O. Box 6706 St. Olavs plass
N-0130 Oslo
Norway

Rebecca Schiel (Contact Author)

School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs at the University of Central Florida ( email )

4297 Andromeda Loop North
Howard Phillips Hall Rm 302
Orlando, FL 32816
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sciences.ucf.edu/politics/person/rebecca-schiel/

Bruce M. Wilson

University of Central Florida ( email )

4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816-1400
United States

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