The the Votes Without Violence methodology was created and refined by the National Democratic Institute, which tested modules and tools over many months, learning and incorporating changes based on a series of citizen election observations.
The methodology was piloted in observations in:
- Côte d’Ivoire,
- Tanzania and
The development of this programming was informed substantially by NDI’s expertise in election observation and in monitoring and mitigating general electoral violence, and was developed to complement and extend the advances NDI has already made in the field of election monitoring.
In each country, NDI staff collaborated closely with local observers to develop and implement best practices for observing VAW-E. The pilot observations covered a spectrum of monitoring methodologies, from parallel vote tabulations on election day, to thematic observations, to approaches focused on a particular election process or systematic long-term observation of the general election environment. The variation among the experiences means that while each observation gathered data on VAW-E, the kind of data and the type of analysis it allowed for varied widely.
Through the data gathered and presented here, it has become increasingly clear that VAW-E is a serious global problem in need of further investigation and data collection.
A critical part of collecting this information is ensuring that data collected is comparable across years, countries and observation efforts. As part of the Votes Without Violence initiative, NDI drew on existing research and experience to develop common categories and key variables, which observation groups could use to organize and analyze their data.
These categories, which are described here, are essential analytical tools. They guide an observation group from the development of checklist questions through designing their data collection methods and ultimately to presenting their data in a way that allows it to be compared not only with their own previous or future observations, but also with information and evidence collected in other countries. In doing so, using common categories makes it possible to develop, over time, a more complete and global picture of violence against women in elections: what it looks like, its perpetrators, who is affected by it, and the impact it has on democracy.