Throughout history people have fought both for the right to vote and for their vote to count. They want not only the vote but progress, opportunities and choices. Many of their aspirations are down to earth: jobs, healthcare, education and a better standard of living. Democracy is the means to fulfil them.
Free and fair elections are the backbone of every democracy – an election is the time when the power is fully in the hands of the people as they vote to shape the future of their country. But too often elections do not meet the standards needed to ensure that citizens are effectively able to hold their governments to account through the ballot box.
Many of the democratic challenges faced around the world are the same for rich and poor countries alike; bolstering participation when disillusionment with politics is high; fighting fraud and corruption and ensuring that everyone’s vote counts no matter who they are or where they live.
Solutions to universal challenges such as poverty, inequality, environmental sustainability or political strife start at the ballot box by successfully empowering people to vote. During a long international career, I have seen at first hand many of these challenges as well as the transformative power that legitimate elections can play in empowering citizens around the world.
Just as our world evolves so too must our elections. Technology has revolutionised so many aspects of our lives – services, lifestyles and living standards but elections have been left behind. That’s despite the benefits it can bring from reducing fraud and corruption, bolstering participation and ensuring that no one can be cheated of their vote.
This collection of essays from some of the world’s most prominent election experts - who make up Smartmatic’s International Elections Advisory Council - offers a unique behind the scenes perspective on what it takes to run an effective election including reflections on the role that technology can play. Not only do the contributors offer their thoughts on the global electoral landscape but also on critical questions such as how to enfranchise the disenfranchised and which countries are leading the curve on digital democracy. They offer lessons for the future and food for thought for governments, electoral management bodies and many others who work on the frontline of elections.
Businesses can and must play a transformative role in development but they cannot do it alone. As Chair of Smartmatic, I am proud to be able to draw on the knowledge and experiences of these experts to help shape the election systems that we develop. By pooling knowledge, using the cutting edge tools at our disposal and working together we play our part in ensuring that voters all over the world are able to hold their governments to account.
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown
Chairman, Smartmatic (2014-2020)