The Council of Europe has adopted and follows the implementation of a number of reference standards in the field of elections. These sources cover from the most binding regulation – the right to free elections is guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights - to the latest innovative guidelines, aimed at guaranteeing the conduct of regular, free, fair, and transparent elections, ensuring the legitimacy of the institutions in its member States and beyond. 

In order to reflect its essential contribution in the field of electoral processes and referenda, the Council of Europe designed a “Council of Europe’s electoral cycle”, which reflects its work and actions throughout these processes. It is divided into three parts: the pre-election period (legal framework, planning and implementation, training and education, voter registration, electoral campaign); the election period (operations and election day, verification of results) and the post-election period.

The Electoral Cycle has been designed by ACE Project - The Electoral Knowledge Network