Appeal channels, when available, should be narrowly constructed to avoid "forum shopping."
- Ambiguous, evasive or incomplete provisions in the election law or other normative acts may generate confusion over the jurisdiction of the courts and election commissions to deal with election disputes. In recent elections in the OSCE region, this has provided opportunities to “forum shop” for a desired result between the courts and election commissions, which was exploited, causing obstruction and delays in the process of installing elected candidates.
- The appeal procedure and, in particular, the powers and responsibilities of the various bodies should be clearly regulated by law, so as to avoid conflicts of jurisdiction (whether positive or negative). Neither the appellants nor the authorities should be able to choose the appeal body.
- It is also vital that the appeal procedure, and especially the powers and responsibilities of the various bodies involved in it, should be clearly regulated by law, so as to avoid any positive or negative conflicts of jurisdiction. Neither the appellants nor the authorities should be able to choose the appeal body. The risk that successive bodies will refuse to give a decision is seriously increased where it is theoretically possible to appeal to either the courts or an electoral commission, or where the powers of different courts – e.g. the ordinary courts and the constitutional court – are not clearly differentiated.
- The right to appeal to election bodies and courts should be established to enable a clear, understandable, singular and hierarchical complaint process that defines the roles of each level of election commission and each level of the courts. This will avoid the potential for a complainant to appeal to the body considered likely to offer the most favourable consideration of the complaint.
- Good electoral practice advises against conflicts of jurisdiction of election administration bodies and courts.
- Systems that provide concurrent jurisdiction or that permit complainants to choose among investigative bodies to which they can file complaints run the risk of duplicating investigations and stoking institutional rivalry and forum shopping.