Election law is a discipline falling at the juncture of constitutional law and political science. It researches "the politics of law and the law of politics". The conceptual knowledge behind election law focuses on who votes, when that person can vote, and the construction behind the tabulated totals.
Some of the questions that are addressed by election law are:
- Which people are entitled to vote in an election (e.g. age, residency or literacy requirements, or poll taxes), and the procedures by which such persons must register to vote or present identification in order to vote
- Which people are entitled to hold office (for example, age, residency, birth or citizenship requirements), and the procedures candidates must follow to appear on the ballot (such as the formatting and filing of nominating petitions) and rules governing write-in candidates
- The rules about what subjects may be submitted to a direct popular vote through a referendum or plebiscite, and the rules that governmental agencies or citizen groups must follow to place questions on the ballot for public consideration
- The framework by which political parties may organize their internal government, and how they select candidates to run for political office (e.g. primary elections)
- The financing of elections (e.g. contribution limits, rules for public financing of elections, the public disclosure of contributors, and rules governing interest groups other than a candidate's campaign organization)
- The requirements for creating districts which elect representatives to a legislative assembly (examples include congressional districts, ridings or wards within a municipality)
- What restrictions are placed on campaign advocacy (such as rules on anonymous or false advertising)
- How votes are cast at an election (including whether to use a paper ballot, or some other form of recording votes such as a mechanical voting machine or electronic voting device, and how information is presented to voters on the ballot or device)
- How votes are counted at an election, recounts, and election challenges
- Whether, and how, voters or candidates may file legal actions in a court of law or administrative agency to enforce their rights or contest the outcome of an election
- Definition of electoral fraud and other crimes against the electoral system
- The sources of election law (for example, constitutions, national statutes, state statutes, or judicial decisions) and the interplay between these sources of law
Sources of election law
Regimes in comparative law
The French electoral code addresses most of the elections. However, other texts frame this material for special elections. Thus the Constitution but fixed some general basic provisions concerning the presidential election, the legislative and senatorial elections.
For litigation election, the court depends on the concerned election. The Constitutional Council is responsible for the most important elections: presidential elections and senatorial elections or referendums. In contrast, to the municipal or district elections the administrative tribunal has jurisdiction, then the appeal is to the State Council. Finally, for the regional and European elections, the Council of State which has jurisdiction at first and last resort.
In decisions on electoral matters, the law takes into account the results: if an essential principle is violated, the election is canceled but if fraud is "classic" (ballot stuffing, failure to register as voters, vote the dead ...) but the election was won (after counting of ballots invalidated) with a large or very large lead, the judge then cancels rarely the result.
The Italian Constitution fixes some general basic provisions concerning the legislative elections. Electoral disputes in Italy are complex because they are divided between several court orders. For example, with regard to the dispute concerning registration of candidates for ballots or litigation election, the administrative court has jurisdiction. For elegibility and disfranchisement, the judge is the ordinary tribunal.
If a fraud is proven by the judge, it does not cancel necessarily the elections, unless they think that the result of election without the fraud would not have been identical. The survival of the acts already performed by the elected organs would seem solved by abundant case law that protects innocent trust of third parties.
In the United Kingdom, election law is legislated for by The Houses of Parliament. The statutory governance of UK Election law comes from acts of parliament such as the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011. The Electoral Commission’s mandate and establishment was set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), and ranges from the regulation of political donations and expenditure by political and third parties through to promoting greater participation in the electoral process.
The Electoral Administration Act 2006 made a number of improvements to electoral registration, improving the security arrangements for absent voting, allowing observers to attend elections and a major change in reducing the minimum age for candidates at UK parliamentary elections. It also introduced the performance standards regime for electoral services.
- "Electoral Laws —". aceproject.org. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
- On the other side, opposite judgement comes when the participation of the lists has resulted in an imbalance, also because the deviation of the votes between the two clusters is less than one thousand ballotts: Buonomo, Giampiero (2001). "La partecipazione (viziata) delle liste produce uno squilibrio nel voto". Diritto&Giustizia edizione online. – via Questia (subscription required)
- "A principle of separation of powers ( ... ) is the rationale of the law ( ... ) which ousts the administrative courts from ineligibility dispute": Buonomo, Giampiero (2000). "Il giudicato civile in materia elettorale preclude l'azione popolare davanti al Tar". Diritto&Giustizia edizione online. – via Questia (subscription required)
- The faults, as null and void, cannot justify a reversal "by forfeit" of the electoral outcome: Buonomo, Giampiero (2000). "Elezioni Molise: gestione incerta fino all'annullamento definitivo". Diritto&Giustizia edizione online. – via Questia (subscription required)
- Buonomo, Giampiero (2002). "L'incandidabilità di un eletto travolge il consiglio regionale abruzzese (e ripropone gli interrogativi molisani)". Diritto&Giustizia edizione online. – via Questia (subscription required)
- Election Law Journal - A scholarly journal devoted to election law
- Election Law @ Moritz - a repository of Election Law news and commentary from academics and practitioners, compiled at the Ohio State Michael E. Moritz College of Law.
- Electoral Studies - A scholarly journal devoted to the study of elections
- Samuel Issacharoff, Pamela S. Karlan & Richard H. Pildes. The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process. 4th Rev. Ed. Foundation Press, 2012.
- Daniel H. Lowenstein, Richard L. Hasen & Daniel P. Tokaji, Election Law: Cases and Materials. 5th Ed. Carolina Press, 2012.
- Joshua A. Douglas & Eugene D. Mazo. Election Law Stories. Ed. Foundation Press, 2016.
- Dennis F. Thompson, Just Elections: Creating a Fair Electoral Process in the U.S. University of Chicago Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0226797649
- Electoral Administration Act 2006
- Voting and Election Laws
- Right to free elections in the case law of the ECtHR
- EL@M: Election Law @ Moritz
- American Bar Association Standing Committee on Election Law