How do we distinguish between a ‘genuine’, ‘free and fair’, or ‘legitimate’ election and an election that is something less? In this article, we offer an answer to this vexing question: the Election Administration Systems Index (EASI). EASI is a practical, transparent, and sustainable tool for measuring the quality of elections in the developing world. The following pages describe the current limitations in measuring election quality, detail the EASI approach, and provide a comparative analysis of the results of its pilot implementation. EASI scores are drawn from a survey of experts on elections in the target country following a recent nationwide election. The analytical framework is comprised of three electoral dimensions: participation, competition, and integrity of the process. We also divide these dimensions temporally according to the electoral cycle: either pre-election, during the election, or post-election. The final product is a set of six primary scores displayed across dimension and time. By aggregating the survey data in this fashion, we provide for a nuanced assessment of an election by each dimension and across the cycle. As our pilot results demonstrate, EASI is a diagnostic tool for identifying electoral strengths and weaknesses and serves well for comparative assessments.
Measuring the quality of election administration