Delimiting electoral district boundaries can have major consequences for the voters, political groups and communities of interest residing within these constituencies as well as for the representatives elected to serve these constituencies. Ultimately, the election outcome and the political composition of the legislature may be affected by the constituency boundaries. A failure to recognize the importance of the electoral boundary delimitation process and its impact can have serious ramifications: If stakeholders suspect that electoral boundaries have been unfairly manipulated – benefiting some groups at the expense of others – this will affect the credibility and the legitimacy of the election process and its outcome.
In this module we explore the potential consequences of drawing – or not drawing – electoral boundaries and identify the principles that lead to a fair and effective delimitation process if electoral district boundaries are to be created. Participants examine alternatives for structuring the boundary authority and rules for carrying out the process. In addition, participants engage in a number of activities designed to familiarize them with the tasks involved in delimiting electoral boundaries.
Countries that delimit districts must establish a structure and a set of rules for carrying out the process. This module introduces participants to a wide variety of options by comparing and contrasting the delimitation practices of numerous countries and considering the potential consequences of adopting these differing approaches, encouraging participants to evaluate which methods are potentially sustainable in their own context. The subjects covered in this component of the module include:
In addition to requiring a structure and a set of rules, boundary delimitation involves performing a range of potentially quite complex tasks. This module offers a number of hands-on activities designed to acquaint participants with such common delimitation tasks as:
A key understanding underlying this module is that the delimitation of electoral boundaries has an impact on the electoral process and its outcome. A fair and effective delimitation process can contribute to the credibility of the electoral process – and perhaps, more importantly, a poorly devised and executed delimitation process can lead to questions about the legitimacy of the electoral process and the electoral outcome itself. This module provides participants with the theoretical foundation and many of the practical skills needed to design and carry out a successful boundary delimitation.