Foreign Election Interference: Comparative Approaches to a Global Challenge


Efforts by foreign entities to influence domestic elections have shaken democracies around the world. The use of propaganda and misinformation to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries is not new, but events since 2016 have heightened awareness across the globe of how changes in social media platforms, political norms, and campaign financing rules have enabled foreign actors to influence elections on an unprecedented scale.

This special issue of the Election Law Journal explores how six nations have perceived and responded to this threat. These six nations—Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland (as a constituent nation of the UK), Australia, and New Zealand—have faced their own challenges and forged ahead with their own solutions. As the contributions to this issue make clear, in doing so these nations have struggled with similar questions and have worked their way toward a common set of solutions. These efforts have varied in their details—which is what makes comparative review of them valuable—but they have consolidated around the same general set of ideas: better educating citizens about the perils of cyber speech, increasing transparency about who is promoting online communications, building better barriers to exclude foreign funding of electoral communications, and trying to remove the most egregiously false statements from political discourse.

The hope of this research is that shedding light on how different nations have operationalized these efforts will demonstrate to election law scholars, regulators, and policy makers around the world the value of comparative work in this area. There is a great deal at stake, and much to learn from the experiences of others.