Core Election Principles

The principles of elections are concepts which every election should strive to uphold. Indeed, elections that do not uphold most or all of these principles draw criticism for being undemocratic. Here you can find out what the core election principles are and where they come from.

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 21 establishes a set of core principles for democratic elections within political elections:

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures

This clause clearly sets out five principles which democratic elections must follow.

Periodic: Set time periods for elections. Elections must be regular and unable to be easily changed.

Genuine: Genuine change must be a possibility – the government must be able to change depending on the outcome of the election. This similarly applies to the competence of the election organizers – change must be possible through a genuine and well-organized election.

Universal and equal suffrage: Each and every citizen should have the ability to vote, regardless of their social status, ethnicity, level of education or any other personal aspect of themselves. Equally, the ability to register oneself as eligible to vote should not be affected by anything other than age or citizenship.

Free Voting Procedures: While this is predominantly a secret ballot (see below) other voting options are permitted as long as they are completely free. Free in this context can be understood in two ways. Firstly, that individuals should not be able to be persecuted for or prevented from their preferred voting preferences. Secondly, that the elections should be transparent – free in the sense that they are able to be checked for integrity.

Secret Vote: The secrecy of the ballot means that no other person or groups of people, private or public including the election organizers should be able to learn how an individual has cast their ballot. This clause is included as an ideal voting procedure to ensure that people can vote for who they choose to vote for without fear of repercussions from friends, family or indeed the government. 

Electoral Principles in Non-Political Elections

Although the Declaration of Human Rights explicitly states that these principles are for the participation in political elections, these ideals have been carried over into the private sector. Institutions – companies, cooperatives, associations, regulatory bodies, and unions. Indeed this declaration has become the de facto guideline that all elections should follow to ensure legitimacy.

TIP: Concerned about the security of your election? POLYAS’ online voting software is certified according to the Common Criteria Standards.

Securing your Election with Online Voting

Security is one of our highest priorities with all of our elections, regardless of size.  Online voting provides your electorate with the opportunity to vote at home, at work or even on holiday. We offer combined election procedures to ensure that all of your members are able to vote.

Whether you are a small club looking to elect your council or a union voting at an AGM, we can help ensure that your election upholds all of the principles of elections.