Media Center

Press Release

OAS General Secretariat welcomes launch of Voluntary Election Integrity Guidelines for Technology Companies

  March 19, 2024

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) welcomes the launch of the Voluntary Election Integrity Guidelines for Technology Companies presented today by The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) which are the product of an effort between technology companies, electoral authorities, electoral experts and civil society organizations, which included the OAS General Secretariat.

The 11 guidelines seek to establish clear policies and processes to share information around elections and ensuring that voters have access to high-quality information, improve communication channels and collaboration between technology companies and electoral authorities, where applicable, and reduce barriers to supporting election integrity for smaller and newer businesses.

Recalling that in 2024 at least 12 electoral processes will be held in the Americas, the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, highlighted that the guidelines are "a step in the right direction and a starting point for the collaboration that must exist between governments, electoral authorities, civil society, academia and technology companies to promote electoral integrity, respond to current challenges and preserve freedom of expression and information and the political rights of citizens."

The Director of the OAS Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, Gerardo de Icaza, who was invited to participate in the development of the guidelines as an electoral expert, said "the points of intersection between technology and elections have increased immensely in the past 20 years and will continue to do so in the years to come." De Icaza added that the changes range from "the way candidates campaign, and voters get their information, to how electoral management bodies develop solutions to organize better elections, technology has become fundamental in every election across the globe. Tech companies that adhere to these voluntary guidelines will be sending a strong message that they are on the side of democracy."

For his part during its launch, IFES President Tony Banbury highlighted that the purpose of the guidelines is to establish a framework for meaningful engagement and support between electoral authorities and technology companies. He added that "disinformation is the single gravest threat facing electoral integrity and democracy in many countries of the world, and that threat is just getting worse." Banbury also emphasized the critical role of election officials "to build and sustain the trust of the voters in the integrity of the electoral process. To fulfill their mission, they need the cooperation of the technology sector."

The guidelines presented today contain 11 voluntary commitments:

• Determine how to prioritize resources across many global elections by taking into account a holistic set of considerations;
• Consult with global civil society as necessary and appropriate;
• Establish and disseminate clear policies and processes regarding election-related content, activities, civil unrest, and violence;
• Centralize information about the resources that are available and relevant to election authorities and other stakeholders;
• Establish planning processes that take into account election authorities’ timelines and capacity;
• Enable access to authoritative election and voter information when appropriate;
• Establish a strategy to take action on misinformation and disinformation about electoral participation;
• Establish and make available communication channels for election authorities;
• Publicly provide information on paid political and/or paid election content;
• Maintain appropriate coordination mechanisms and operations beyond the immediate election period;
• Support post-election engagement with election stakeholders.

The guidelines are ready to be used immediately, although they can be refined and adjusted based on the lessons learned in their application. IFES encourages companies to publicly communicate their plans to adhere to these plans, either globally or in reference to specific elections.

Reference: E-016/24