Voting processes should be guided by regulatory frameworks and should be subject to the rule of law.
- Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 is phrased differently from the other provisions of the Convention and its Protocols – in terms of the obligation of the High Contracting Parties, rather than guaranteeing a specific right or freedom (see paragraph 34 above). Unlike other provisions of the Convention, such as Article 5, Articles 8 to 11, or Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, the text of this provision does not contain an express reference to the “lawfulness” of any measures taken by the State. However, the rule of law, one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society, is inherent in all the Articles of the Convention and its Protocols (see, among many other authorities, Amuur v. France, 25 June 1996, § 50, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-III). This principle entails a duty on the part of the State to put in place a legislative framework for securing its obligations under the Convention in general and Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 in particular, and to ensure that its public officials charged with executing those obligations do not act outside the law, but exercise their powers in accordance with the applicable legal rules.
- Each step in the election process must be described in the election laws and regulations, and the provisions must be published well before the elections.
- Apart from rules on technical matters and detail – which may be included in regulations of the executive –, rules of electoral law must have at least the rank of a statute.
- To be successfully conducted, free and fair elections should be guided by detailed provisions regarding the forms of ballots, the design of ballot boxes and voting compartments, and the manner of polling. These provisions should protect the process from fraudulent practices and respect the secrecy of the vote.