This document outlines NDI's programmatic approaches to addressing the threat of disinformation in the electoral context, particularly the actions citizen election observers and international observers can take to mitigate, expose, and counter disinformation. It also stresses the importance of using open election data to deter disinformation and advocacy around norms and standards to counter disinformation.
Democratic elections rely on a competitive process, faith in electoral institutions and informed participation. The strategic deployment of false, exaggerated or contradictory information in the electoral environment has been a potent tool for undercutting these democratic principles in many places around world. Deliberately blurred lines between truth and fiction amplify voter confusion and devalue fact-based political debate. Rumors, hearsay, and online harassment are used to damage political reputations, exacerbate social divisions, mobilize supporters, marginalize women and minority groups, and undermine the impact of change-makers. Manipulation of voter and civic information dampens participation and degrades trust in election management bodies. Such conditions can destabilize political environments, exacerbate potentials for electoral-related violence, pervert the will of voters, entrench authoritarians, and undermine confidence in democratic systems more broadly.