Statement on the recent events in Washington D.C.

The past 24 hours has seen dramatic and tragic events unfolding on Capitol Hill as the United States Congress met to confirm the democratically elected President and Vice-President who are due to take office on 20th January.

Over the past four months Democracy Volunteers has been observing the election, from a distance due to Covid-19, with teams interviewing election officials, academics, campaigners and others engaged in the democratic process. Our report will be issued in early February once all aspects of the democratic process have been completed.

I am often asked by some of those who we observe, ‘why aren’t you in Africa or somewhere like that?’

The events in Washington DC answer that question clearly. Democracies depend on those who partake in them understanding the rules of elections and accepting the outcome of those elections. When asked this question I always respond, ‘no democracy is perfect.’ Today this would seem to be indisputable.

Democracy Volunteers is a small UK-based non-partisan organisation but one which observes western elections (having observed in many European countries as well as the UK) to act as a candid friend to help those countries improve their elections to engage citizens so that they have their right to vote, to vote in secret and to have their vote counted.

It is perhaps surprising to many that although the Copenhagen Agreement of 1990 is something that required the former Eastern Bloc countries to accept election observers, both international and domestic, it is something that continues to be ignored by many western countries – the United States included. It is time for western democracies to embrace and encourage citizen-led non-partisan election observation to strengthen democracy to contribute to preventing the sorts of scenes we saw yesterday in the United States.

Dr John Ault
Director of Democracy Volunteers

Leave a Reply