Administrative processes for citizen complaints about electoral matters may fail to deliver effective or sufficient redress. Recourse to courts of law may not always provide timely or suitable venues for citizens to pursue such matters. Many countries have an Ombudsman, Inspector General, People’s Advocate/Defender or similar offices, which could take up such citizen complaints. Those offices, if empowered to address electoral matters, or if established where they do not exist, can provide effective resolution of important election related problems and at the same time enhance public confidence in governance.
Ombudsmen’s offices may also at times take a proactive role to monitor and seek improvements in election processes, which can provide an important independent governmental voice and a bridge for constructive interactions among parliaments, to which they often report, EMBs and other agencies, electoral contestants and the public. As an independent entity, whether operating under the legislative or executive branch of government, Ombudsmen’s Offices and similar entities should be free of conflicts of interest and well positioned to address electoral issues.
- Empower an Ombudsman’s Office or similar body to receive citizen complaints concerning election related matters, with authority to interact with EMBs and other governmental agencies that have significant roles in electoral processes, and with authority to both work out solutions to complaints and to make public reports.
- Empower an Ombudsman’s Office or similar body to, on its own initiative, monitor electoral related activities of governmental agencies and public officials, for example, concerning violations of electoral related rights of prospective voters and candidates, use of state resources for electoral advantage and failure of police, prosecutors or courts to provide equal and proper protection to all citizens in the electoral context.
- Require the Ombudsman’s Office or similar body to develop expertise in the broad context of election processes, over the election cycle, in order to properly understand and address election related matters, including the right to government held election information and electoral data.
- Require the Ombudsman’s Office or similar body so empowered to report publicly and to the legislature on an annual basis regarding its activities concerning electoral matters, and require that it respond in a timely manner to citizen requests for information about such activities.