Governance – Electoral Systems International Standards
Improving electoral systems with new international quality management guidance
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Clare Naden on 11 June 2019
Free and fair elections thanks to well defined and managed electoral services are at the heart of a democratic political system, and casting a vote is a basic political right. Having robust systems in place is essential for this to run smoothly. Newly revised international guidance for electoral organizations will help them do just that, by applying the principles of ISO’s most widely known standard for quality, ISO 9001.
The technical specification ISO/TS 54001, Quality management systems – Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2015 for electoral organizations at all levels of government creates the framework for a quality management system that helps electoral bodies provide more reliable and transparent electoral services. It is based on ISO 9001 Quality management systems with specific sector requirements. It has been recently updated to reflect updates to ISO 9001 to keep it more in line with market needs.
Katie Altoft, chair of the ISO technical committee responsible for its development said it is an important tool for electoral organizations because it helps to build confidence in elections through enabling transparency, effective planning and management, and efficiency in electoral processes.
“Every electoral body will have its own legal framework based on international and national law, so this is not intended to replace it,” she said.
“However, by outlining international best practice when it comes to the quality management of an election and an electoral organization, it enables them to improve their processes to strengthen citizen confidence, reduce risks and continually improve.”
One of the key organizations behind the proposal for the TS was the Organization of American States (OAS), whose purpose includes promoting peace and democracy.
Maria Mellenkamp, convenor of the committee’s working group that developed the document and a representative of the OAS added: “ISO/TS 54001 is a great tool to help guide electoral management bodies to efficiently plan electoral processes and help to ensure objectivity in the results.”
It covers all aspects of a successful election such as registration of candidates and voters, vote casting and counting, declaration of results and resolution of electoral disputes. ISO/TS 54001 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 176 Quality management and quality assurance.