Elections in digital times: a guide for electoral practitioners
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Strengthening democracy and electoral processes in the era of social media and Artificial Intelligence Democracy requires free, periodic, transparent, and inclusive elections. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the right to political participation are also critical to societies ruled by the respect of human rights. In today’s rapidly evolving digital environment, opportunities for communication between citizens, politicians and political parties are unprecedented –– with information related to elections flowing faster and easier than ever, coupled with expanded opportunities for its verification and correction by a growing number of stakeholders. However, with billions of human beings connected, and disinformation and misinformation circulating unhinged around the networks, democratic processes and access to reliable information are at risk. With an estimated 56.8% of the world’s population active on social media and an estimate of 4 billion eligible voters, the ubiquity of social networks and the impact of Artificial Intelligence can intentionally or unintentionally undermine electoral processes, thereby delegitimizing democracies worldwide. In this context, all actors involved in electoral processes have an essential role to play. Electoral management bodies, electoral practitioners, the media, voters, political parties, and civil society organizations must understand the scope and impact of social media and Artificial Intelligence in the electoral cycle. They also need to have access to the tools to identify who instigates and spreads disinformation and misinformation, and the tools and strategies to combat it. This handbook aims to be a toolbox that helps better understand the current scenario and share experiences of good practices in different electoral settings and equip electoral practitioners and other key actors from all over the world to ensure the credibility of the democratic system in times of profound transformations.
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