Conference Theme

Elections come under threat from a variety of fronts, be that foreign interference or cyber-attacks, violent conflicts stemming from electoral events, or targeted attacks against politicians in person or online.

Examples of these scenarios are widespread, from elections being postponed in Haiti and Nigeria due to violence, to cases of foreign meddling in American elections and Baltic states. Security is a key challenge to electoral integrity and it is of vital interest to academics, policymakers, security forces, and electoral officials alike.

The Securing Elections: Foreign Meddling, Fake News, and Political Violence workshop will consider how elections can be protected from the variety of security threats that emerge during the electoral cycle.

About the Conference

Securing Elections: Foreign Meddling, Fake News, and Political Violence


Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Crystal City, Virginia (20 minutes from downtown Washington DC)


  • Holly Ann Garnett (Royal Military College of Canada)
  • Charles Stewart III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


  • Preliminary Agenda


    8:30 – 9:00

    Registration and Coffee


    9:00 – 9:10



    9:15– 10:45

    Concurrent Panels:


    Elections in Conflict Areas

    • Electoral Mobilization and Voter Turnout in Post-Authoritarian Countries: The Case of Parliamentary Elections in Iraq (2005-2018). Abbas Fadhil Alkateshi, Rutgers University
    • Illegitimate election observation as a tool for building political standing of separatists governments in conflict resolution process. Daria Paprocka, European Centre for Electoral Support
    • Deploying Democracy: The Role of Security Forces in Post-Conflict Elections. Holly Ann Garnett & Jean-Nicholas Bordeleau, Royal Military College of Canada


    Cyber-security and Technology in Elections

    • Practical Solutions to Signature Verification. Matthew Bernhard, University of Michigan
    • Evaluating the Quality of Changes in Voter Registration Databases. Seo-young Silvia Kim, Spencer Schneider, & R. Michael Alvarez, California Institute of Technology
    • Exploring data science methodology and advanced cybersecurity capabilities in election administration. Rahul K Patel, Karen A. Yarbrough, Tonya Rice & Edmund Michalowski, Cook County Election Office


    Electoral Violence in Africa

    • The Effects of Violence on Ethnic Demography and Voting: Evidence from Kenya. J. Andrew Harris, New York University Abu Dhabi
    • How Violence Hardens the Vote: Exposure to Election Violence and Political Attitudes in Africa. Ursula Daxecker, University of Amsterdam & Inken von Borzyskowski, Florida State University
    • Gender and Violence in Local Council Elections in Uganda. Paige Schneider, Sewanee The University of the South


    10:45 – 11:00

    Coffee Break


    11:00– 12:45

    Concurrent Panels:


    Roundtable: New Books on Election Violence

    • Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa by Stephanie Burchard (Institute for Defense Analyses)
    • The Credibility Challenge: How Democracy Aid Influences Election Violence by Inken von Borzyskowski (Florida State University)

    • Electoral Violence, Corruption and Political Order by Sarah Birch (King’s College London)


    Election Interference

    • External Actors, Social Media and Fake News in Scandinavian Elections. John Ault, Democracy Volunteers (United Kingdom)
    • Social Media Manipulation as a Threat to Electoral Security. Alesia Sedziaka, Stetson University
    • Combining Disperate Machine Learning Approaches to Detect Malicious Election Websites. Joshua M Franklin, Elijah Franklin and Kenny Thompson, OutStack Technologies
    • What Does Rigged Mean? Partisan vs. Widely Shared Perceptions of Threats to Elections. Sharon E. Jarvis, Bethany Albertson, Tynan Holt and Dakota Park-Ozee, University of Texas at Austin


    Election Law and Justice

    • Using International Law to Combat Election Fraud: Comparative Experiences from Regional Human Rights Systems. Dmitry Kurnosov, University of Copenhagen
    • Rejecting Bias: Election Dispute Resolution Through Election Management Bodies. Joseph Klaver, University of Michigan
    • Electoral Dispute Institutions and the Legitimacy of Election Outcomes. Kevin Pallister, Bridgewater College
    • Beyond Malapportionment and Gerrymandering: The Role of the Size of the Legislature in Partisan Electoral Manipulation. Yuko Kasuya, Keio University, Japan & Chin-Huat Wong, Sunway University, Malaysia


    12:45 – 1:45



    1:45 – 3:15

    Concurrent Panels:


    Cross-National Perspectives on Electoral Violence

    • Effect of Pre-Electoral Violence on Voter Participation: Does Context Matter? Fortune Agbele & Ghadafi Saibu, University of Bayreuth, Germany
    • The Political Economy of Assassinations. Mariana Carvalho, University of California, San Diego
    • Silver or Lead? Election-related Violence and Corruption on Gender Equality in Elected Office. Pippa Norris, Harvard University and Sydney University
    • Online Violence Against Women in Elections and Politics: A Cross-National Sentiment Analysis. Gabrielle Bardall, International Foundation for Electoral Systems


    Disinformation and Fake News

    • 10 ways to counter fake news; the case of 2019 Tripartite Elections in Malawi. Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Malawi Electoral Commission
    • Cacophonous Hustings and Pre-emptive Collective Action: Disinformation, Fake News and Propaganda in Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections. Mike Omilusi, Post-Doctoral Researcher/Volunteer, African Media, Malta
    • Disinformation as a Democratic Threat: Conceptual Models and Policy Approaches. Chis Tenove, University of British Columbia
    • The Race Against SARA and Hoaxes in Indonesian Elections. Vasu Mohan, International Foundation for Electoral Systems


    Electoral Management

    • How does Electoral Governance Matter in Post-Colonial and Neo-liberal Hybrid Regime? Social Media, Fake News and Electoral Integrity in Pakistan. Muhammad Shakeel Ahmad, COMSATS University Islamabad-Pakistan
    • Electoral Leadership in Crisis. Katherine Ellena, Erica Shein and Catherine Barnes, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
    • Election Quality and the Dynamics of Voter Turnout in Electoral Democracies: Evidence from Nigeria. Nicholas Kerr, University of Florida; Bodunrin Adebo, National Democratic Institute; & Samson Itodo, YIAGA AFRICA


    3:15 – 3:30

    Coffee Break


    3:30 – 5:00

    Practitioner Roundtable: Working Together to Build Trust in Elections


    A networking reception will follow the workshop.

Call for Papers

This workshop welcomed paper proposals on questions including (but not limited to):

  • How can the peaceful and secure environments necessary for free and fair elections be created?
  • What new security threats have emerged to electoral officials from the rise of information technologies?
  • How successfully have legacy and social media platforms sought to counter fake news? 
  • How are politicians, be they candidates, voters or party officials, threatened at various stages of the electoral cycle? Who are the targets? Who are the perpetrators?
  • When and how is election violence most likely to emerge? How can such conflicts be resolved?
  • How do domestic and foreign monitoring and observation protect or spark electoral conflict?
  • Have perceived security threats undermined public confidence and trust in the electoral process?


Submissions for this workshop are currently closed. 

Those selected to present their papers will be notified by mid-April.


Registration for this conference is currently closed.

If you have questions or wish to add your name to the waitlist, please get in touch with the MIT Election Lab using the contact information below.

Claire DeSoi