Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Free and Fair Elections

Whenever an aspiring democracy sends its citizens to the polls, we hear that monitors are on the ground to determine if the election was free and fair. Now, an election could certainly be free without being fair, say, if there was no intimidation of voters and everyone who wanted access to a ballot received it but afterwards if ballot boxes were stuffed. But could an election be fair and not free? Wouldn't the action which restricted the freedom also by definition be an insult to fairness? But then we would only need to say "fair elections," not "free and fair elections." How does fairness differ from freedom in this case?