Securing elections against foreign interference: best practices and recommendations

Ahead of the European Parliament elections in June 2024, the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE) has produced a report examining the countermeasures that various states are implementing to secure their elections against foreign interference.

In Hybrid CoE Research Report 10 – Preventing election interference: Selected best practices and recommendationsVeronika Krátka Špalková and Andrej Poleščuk present for the first time a comprehensive overview of the best practices implemented to safeguard electoral processes in the European Union and NATO countries. The study focuses on selected Hybrid CoE Participating States and also draws on the experiences of two countries that are on the frontline of foreign interference activities, namely Ukraine and Taiwan.

The research shows that in most countries, election interference is more often directed at voters, seeking to influence their decisions, rather than direct attacks on election infrastructure to manipulate the vote count. In consequence, the protective measures taken should emphasize building the overall resilience of the population to malign foreign influence.

The report categorizes the protective measures that are used according to the timeframe in which they were implemented in relation to election day. These range from long-term measures – often in place regardless of the election cycle – to measures taken less than three months beforehand, during and after the elections.

For the national and international authorities in charge of organizing elections, the report provides both a detailed table of individual activities taken by states within the different time periods in the run-up to elections, as well as a set of twelve recommendations to enhance the protection of elections against foreign interference.

The recommendations range from measures aimed at building citizens’ resilience to those related to legislative and systemic changes to create a more robust system to protect the election infrastructure and electoral processes against foreign influencing attempts.

The recommendations are available here.

The whole report can be downloaded here.

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Election interference