Online Challenges For Election Integrity: Case studies from the 2023 NSW Election

September 17, 2023


The spread of misinformation and hate speech online has presented serious global challenges to election integrity in recent years, including in some of the world’s largest democracies. The 2023 New South Wales (NSW) Election, held on March 25, was an important opportunity to observe online threats to election integrity in Australia and how these trends are taking shape in this unique jurisdiction.

While Australia has a long record of well-respected election administration and participation from citizens and other stakeholders, no state is immune to these evolving challenges. A range of stakeholders—from government and election administrators, to political parties, the news media, cultural institutions, civil society and community associations—have important roles to play in defending and enhancing our democracy, and can benefit from deepening their practical understandings of these emergent online dynamics.

This report provides five rich case studies to illustrate the patterns of online activity that those working on election integrity and social cohesion in Australia are facing. Using an exploratory, digital-ethnographic approach, we monitored and explored the context of specific incidents, following how they played out across multiple platforms, channels and websites.

Five key trends stood out in our analysis. The first four describe how elections appear to be providing a catalyst for an escalation in organising and tactics in Australia, and the fifth trend covers the roles news media are playing in amplifying misinformation and hate. Finally, our report concludes with our initial recommendations for a range of stakeholders including governments, granting bodies, civil society, researchers and news media practitioners who are working to strengthen election integrity and social cohesion.

Download the report: Online Challenges For Election Integrity: 5 case studies from the 2023 NSW Election

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