Elections are free when any citizen of age may compete for an office and any citizen may vote in an election. This is certainly not the case everywhere. Some countries have one official party. In some cases, opposition parties are banned from participation. In some countries, members of a minority group are not allowed to vote. Conversely, a few countries make it mandatory for everyone to vote.
Elections are fair when they are administered and conducted without bias. Among other things, fairness requires that citizenship is not selectively accepted, all citizens have an equal number of votes per choice, all citizens have equal access to competing sources of information, all citizens have equal access to a voting booth, voting is by secret ballot, and vote counting is witnessed by – and may be challenged by – representatives of all contestants, and a neutral, competent authority is established to arbitrate disputes. These rules, ideally placed within a constitution, ensure that everyone has the right to participate in a fair election for their leaders and can hold their leaders accountable.« Back to Glossary Index