Gabrielle Bardall

Study program:
Ph.D. Political Science
Current affiliation:
Université de Montréal

She is an American student studying electoral violence in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Voices, Votes and Violence: Political Competition in Sub-Saharan Africa's Electoral Authoritarian Regimes

Elections that take place in the context of authoritarian regimes offer the façade of democracy without the substance. In these countries, elections do not follow traditional 'rules of the game'. Political contenders compete to win votes in elections, but they may also seek to undermine those same elections through violence, protest and boycott, in pursuit of broader political objectives. Far from irrational, this behavior is a strategic response to the specific dynamics of electoral authoritarian (EA) regimes. Although these political paradoxes are generally perceived as failures of democratization, in fact they may contribute to democracy in the long term, under certain circumstances. My research explores the impacts of these dual political strategies on democratic outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades. By taking a fresh look at political tactics in the unique context of EA regimes, my research seeks to enable local and international actors to tailor electoral assistance programs to the adapted realities of the field.the ways we move in and through our public spaces.

Gabrielle Bardall is an academic and an electoral assistance expert with over a decade of experience supporting electoral processes in transitional states. Her professional experience spans the design, management, implementation and evaluation of technical elections assistance programs in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Within the field of elections, she focuses on conflict dynamics, political party development, gender issues and electoral systems. Specializing in sub-Saharan Africa, she served as resident program manager in the Democratic Republic of Congo (routinely between 2005 and 2008) and in Guinea (2008) with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and as lead technical advisor on election violence prevention in Burundi (2010, 2015) with IFES and UNDP.

As a gender specialist with UNDP’s New York headquarters and country offices and with UN Women, Ms. Bardall has contributed to several publications on enhancing women’s political participation and has provided training on gender and elections to electoral administrators from over 50 countries. During the post-revolution elections in Egypt in 2011-2012, she introduced gender monitoring and analysis into The Carter Center’s election observation missions (EOM), as the Center’s first Gender Expert deployed with an EOM core team. Her actions brought the issue of women’s political participation to the forefront of the observation mission’s analysis and public recommendations during the Constitutional Assembly elections. A researcher and consultant with various international organizations, she has published on progressive areas of her field, including pioneering research on the gender dimensions of election violence. She is an associated expert with the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics).

As an Expert-level Facilitator with the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections professional development program (, she has delivered over a thousand hours of training for election administrators and assistance providers including for the electoral assistance division of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and electoral administrators from the Middle East/North Africa, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Carribbean. Ms. Bardall taught at the European University Institute’s Executive Training Seminar Series and is an alumni of the Women's Campaign School at Yale University. She also frequently volunteers with grassroots organizations in Africa to share her experience in program design, fundraising and integrating social media and communication technology in election violence prevention programs.

Before her engagement with democracy-governance work, Ms. Bardall worked on grassroots women’s community programs in West Africa and Central America. At home in Québec, Gabrielle is an avid gardener and paddler. She is a doctoral candidate at the Université de Montréal where, motivated by her professional experience, her research explores democratization and electoral violence in sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a BA from McGill University in Montréal and an MA from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris.