Election observation is a process “of information gathering or fact-finding aimed at reaching
an informed judgement about the credibility, legitimacy and acceptability of the electoral
process and its outcome.”The Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and
Observation in the SADC Region (“Pemmo”)(2003:30).
Election observers will consider the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole and to make a judgment whether or not the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which the country has committed itself, making reference to national election-related legislation and relevant regional and other international commitments. Their reports will also contain practical recommendations to help improve electoral arrangements for the future.
Pemmo provides further details on the nature and purpose of election observation. It points out that election observation is conducted by national, regional and international organisations and individuals. These observers “play an important role in enhancing transparency and credibility of elections and the acceptance of the results.”