Election observation

Elections in Norway

The purpose of election observation is to determine whether the election and the electoral process are in compliance with national and international legislation and other universal principles for democratic elections.

The legal framework about election observation includes the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Other documents of importance are the OSCE Copenhagen Document of 1990, the Council of Europe standards in the electoral field and the OSCE Charter for European Security.

Election observation practices in Norway

In Norway, election observation can be carried out by election observers who are part of Norwegian or international election observation missions. Norwegian and international election observation missions are expected to present their findings, conclusions etc, in line with international standards.

Intergovernmental and Norwegian or international nongovernmental organizations and associations  wishing to observe elections in Norway must apply to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation for accreditation. The Ministry issues proof of accreditation pursuant to Section 15-10 of the Election Act. More detailed information about election observation and Norway’s commitments is to be found in Chapter 25 of the Election Manual.

The application for accreditation must contain the following information:

  • Specification of organisation responsible for making the application
  • Specification of the election that is to be observed and the purpose of the observation
  • Name and date of birth of the persons who are to be observers
  • Name of the organisation/association they represent
  • Copy of the passport of the person(s) concerned, showing picture and passport number. If this form of identification is difficult to supply, another form of identification with picture may be accepted.
  • Contact information, telephone number and e-mail address during stay in Norway.

Observation or visit?

Polling stations, counting centers or other election authorities can be visited without holding an authorisation for election observation, if the authority in question gives consent to this and the visit does not disturb the conduct of the election in any manner. Visit must be agreed upon in advance with the authority concerned.

Guidelines for election observers

The Ministry has drawn up guidelines for election observation in Norway. The guidelines contains both Norwegian and English text. It provides information about the procedure for applying for accreditation, what can be observed during elections, and the “Code of conduct for observers”. 

Guidelines for election observers in Norway (pdf).
Published September 2021.

The purpose of election observation

The purpose of election observation is to determine whether the election and the electoral process are in compliance with national and international legislation and other universal principles for democratic elections.

Elections are concerned with fundamental civil and political rights, and election observation is thus an aid to protecting these rights. Elections shall take place in an ambience of confidence, transparency and accountability which offers electors a choice between different political options.

A good, democratic election process is contingent on compliance with the law, respect for freedom of expression and free media, the right to establish political parties and compete for election, non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all citizens, and freedom from threats. Election observation strengthens accountability and transparency and thereby boosts both national and international confidence in the election process.

Election observations conducted in Norway

During the 2017 Parliamentary Elections, the OSCE/ODIHR deployed an election expert team to Norway. The mission focused mainly on the work of the election administration and political party and campaign finance.

Norway, Parliamentary Election, 11 September 2017: Final Report
OSCE/ODIHR Election Expert Team Report

The Ministry's response to OSCE's EAM report (pdf)

During the 2013 Parliamentary Elections, a team of experts from the OSCE observed the conduct of the elections. The mission focused on regulations on political party finance, the electronic election administration system and the internet voting pilot project.

Norway, Parliamentary Elections, 9 September 2013: Final Report,
OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission

The Ministry's response to OSCE's EAM report (pdf)

The Carter Center also deployed an election observer, a so-called "Expert Study Mission", to observe the Internet voting trials. Their expert worked closely with the observers from the OSCE. The report from the Carter Center is neither an election observation report nor an evaluation of the Norwegian pilot project. The conclusions and recommendations following the report is directed toward anyone interested in conducting or observing Internet voting.

Internet Voting Pilot: Norway's 2013 Parliamentary Elections.
Expert Study Mission Report, The Carter Center

During the 2011 Municipal and County Council Elections, a pilot project with Internet voting was carried out. Voters in 10 municipalities were permitted to vote in advance via the Internet. An expert group from the OSCE followed the conduct of the Internet voting pilot project.

Internet voting pilot project local government elections 12 September 2012.
OSCE/ODIHR Election Expert Team Report

The Ministry's response to OSCE's EET report.

In 2009, the OSCE observed the conduct of the Parliamentary Elections. The election observation was conducted by the ODIHR office inWarszawa. The OSCE report from the mission was presented on 27 November 2009. The Ministry presented on 31 May 2010 a response report to the OSCE, describing how the Ministry will follow up the remarks from the OSCE on the conduct of the Parliamentary Elections.

Norway, Parliamentary Elections, 14 September 2009: Final Report.
OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Report

The Ministry's response to OSCE's EAM report

Relevant documents election observation

Documents about election observation

Documents about democratic principles for elections

Links to other sites which have information about election observation: