Wildfires, Hurricanes, Floods and Earthquakes: How Elections are (2023)

The recent postponement of the local polls in Karachi, Pakistan due to the extreme weather (Khan 2022) is an example of how natural hazards can affect an electoral process. To date, the floods have submerged a third of the country, destroying critical infrastructure and killedmore than 1,000 people.

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Election management bodies (EMBs) have always had to cope with the risk of natural hazards, but the threat posed by such phenomena has become more apparent in recent years. Not only has the Covid-19 pandemic identified a range of vulnerabilities in our democratic institutions (International IDEA 2020), but democracy is also set to be shaped in complex ways by climate change (Lindvall 2021). In recent decades, the number of natural disasters increased from under 300 per year in the 1980s to over 800 per annum in the 2020s (Munich Re 2022). This dramatic development is consistent with the predictions of climate scientists (IPCC 2021) and it is thus highly likely that elections will more frequently be threatened by natural hazards in future years.

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How do natural disasters affect elections?

Evidence from around the globe indicates that natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, snowstorms, drought, earthquakes, tsunamisand volcanic eruptions are impacting subnational and national elections (See Table 1). Natural disasters can trigger the postponement of elections, impact electoral operations, affect campaigns, and voter turnout and thereby limit voter choice.

The postponement of an election can breach legal requirements regarding the electoral calendar, can leave a country, region, or municipality with representatives whose term limits have expired, or in some cases legislative seats that remain empty creating a power vacuum. Postponed elections due to natural disasters include the Haiti 2010 legislative election, postponed for 10 months in the aftermath of an earthquake and Hurricane Tomas (Towriss 2022). National and subnational elections have also been delayed in Jamaica (2007), Japan (2011), Pakistan (2022), Papua New Guinea (2019)and the USA (2006).

Table 1. Natural hazards that have had an impact on electoral processes

Natural hazard / Period
Hurricane Eta, October-November 2020
General election, 11 November 2020
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Floods, May 2014
General election, 12 October 2014
Snowstorm, October 2019
General election, 21 October 2019
Floods, 14-15 July 2021
Federal election, 26 September 2021
Earthquake, 12 January 2010, Hurricane Tomas, 5 November 2010
Presidential and Legislative Election, 28 November 2010*
Floods, December 2020
Regional elections, 9 December 2020
Hurricane Dean, August 2007
General election, 3 September 2007*
Earthquake and Tsunami, March 2011
Unified elections, 2011*
Cyclone Idai, March 2019
General elections, 21 May 2019
Cyclone Idai, March 2019 and Cyclone Kenneth, April 2019
General and Provincial Assembly Elections, 15 October 2019
Floods, June–August 2022
Local government elections in Karachi division, August 2022*
Papua New Guinea
A volcanic eruption of Mt Ulawun, 26 June 2019
Local-level government elections, 20 July to 25 July 2019*
Drought, 2015–ongoing
Somaliland, Parliamentary and local elections, 31 May 2021*
Hurricane Sandy, October–November 2012
Presidential election, 6 November 2012
Hurricane Katrina, August 2005
Municipal and Mayoral elections in New Orleans, April-May 2006*
Hurricane Juan, 31 October–6 November 1985
Gubernatorial election, Virginia, 5 November 1985
Wildfires in California, 2016 and 2018
General election, California, November 2016 and 2018
Wildfires in California, Oregonand Washington States, September 2020
General elections, November 2020
Table 1. Constructed by authors using Asplund, E., & Park, H. Impact of Natural Hazards on Elections: A Global Overview. International IDEA, 2022, <https://www.idea.int/news-media/multimedia-reports/impact-natural-hazards-elections> and country information. Note that elections marked with an asterisk (*) were postponed (in the affected region or the whole country) due to natural hazards.

Electoral operations are strongly affected by any natural disaster that happens in the run-up to, or during, polling. Voter registration materials and facilities can be damaged, voters can lose the identity documents that they need to register and to vote (do Rosario 2022), voters can be displaced and require special voting arrangements, and polling stations (and election materials) themselves can be burned, flooded, or otherwise made unusable. Also, law enforcement personnel that typically provide election security may be involved in rescue and relief operations (ECP 2022). Elections held in the wake of the devastating 2019 Hurricane Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans exemplify many of these challenges (do Rosario 2022; Mohan and Roberts 2021).

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Weather events can also obstruct election campaigns, as in Malawi in 2019 when campaigning in camps for voters displaced by Hurricane Idai was prevented by camp managers (Masina 2019). Extreme weather events can make climate change more salient as a campaign issue, as happened at the time of the German floods of 2002 (Rudolf and Kuhn 2018) and 2021 (Tharau 2021). In addition, disaster relief aid may be used to buy votes, as was evident following landslides in Colombia in 2010–2011 (Gallego 2018).

Research on the impacts of natural disasters and voter turnout has yielded mixed findings; in some cases, flood-induced disruption has been found to depress turnout, as happened following the 2002 and 2013 floods in Germany (Rudolf and Kuhn 2018) and following Hurricane Sandy in the USA in 2012 (Stein 2015). In other contexts, disasters and disaster relief activities have been found to have mobilising effects. In Pakistan, more people voted following the 2010–2011 floods than otherwise would have been expected (Fair et al. 2017). It could also be that these two effects work in tandem, such that some people are more likely to vote and others less, as was evident following Hurricane Katrina in the USA in 2005 (Sinclair, Halland Alvarez 2011). Elections held during the early phases of the Covid-19 pandemic experienced declines in turnout for the most part (James and Alihodžić 2020).

When it comes to the choice of party, research findings are again mixed. Voters have been found to punish incumbents for weather events in India (Cole, Healyand Werker 2012) and the USA (Blankenship et al 2021). On the other hand, voters in Russia and Spain appear to be more likely to vote for the incumbent party in the wake of wildfires (Lazarev et al 2014; Ramos and Sanz 2020) or earthquakes in the case of Italy (Masiero and Santarossa 2021). Several studies have found that voters assess parties’ environmental performance, and show that vote choice in the wake of a natural disaster is conditioned by voters’ perceptions of how well parties have developed policies to adapt to and provide relief when nature wreaks havoc with communities (Arceneaux and Stein 2006; Baccini and Leemann 2021; Birch 2022). It is therefore not surprising that in some contexts natural disasters have been found to increase support for Green parties (Hoffmann et al 2021; McAllister and bin Oslan 2021; Vailopoulos and Demertzis 2013).

The effect of natural disasters on electoral processes and outcomes is highly dependent on context, and on how skilfully governments, EMBsand political parties cope with the challenges posed by hazards and aftermaths of disasters, especially when compounded by public health emergencies such as Covid-19 (International IDEA 2022).

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How can elections be protected from natural disasters?

There is a range of approaches that electoral administrators can use to protect elections from natural disasters. These can be grouped into three broad categories: risk management, resilience-buildingand crisis management (International IDEA 2021). Risk management and resilience-building are proactive strategies, whereas crisis management is a reactive strategy.

In the realm of electoral administration, the aim of risk management is to ‘prevent or avoid risks that may negatively impact the integrity of electoral processes’ (Alihodžić 2021). Implementation of risk-management processes allows organizations to systematically identify and manage various risks—both process- and context-related—which often interrelate.Risk management works best when it is carried out across government institutions and other non-state actors (International IDEA 2021). In the context of natural disasters, this might involve strengthening formal collaboration between EMBs and other state agencies. For EMBs, it is important to understand and align with various practices that reduce the risk of dangerous fires—such as forestry practices, or exposure to floods—such as following building codes that prevent the construction of houses in flood-prone areas, or simply ensuring that the timing of elections does not fall in the hurricane or the drought season.

Resilience is the ability to maintain continuity in the face of stresses and shocks. In the electoral sphere,resilience-building includes efforts to ‘strengthen electoral processes and institutions so that they can withstand negative impacts from risks that materialize’ (Alihodžić 2021). In the context of disaster-prone areas, resilience-building might involve, for example, the establishment of contingency plans, that is ex-ante procedures and processes that enable voters to exercise their franchise in the event of displacement or loss of documents due to natural hazards. In recent years, many Californian county election boards have introduced contingency plans to mitigate disruptions caused by natural disasters and other events (Birch and Fischer 2022). Other examples may include the recognition of election personnel,facilities, materials and events (as a whole or a combination) as part of national or subnational critical infrastructure, which is the case in Canada and the USA (DHS 2022; CSA 2022; GoC 2022; International IDEA 2019).

Crisis-management practices are a suite of reactive measures that are taken to restore normalcy that is lost due to various crisis situations.In the context of elections, crisis management aims to ‘enable effective recovery when electoral processes and institutions are derailed’ (Alihodžić 2021). For example, large-scale natural disasters, such as flooding or wildfires, may interrupt electoral processes despite risk management and resilience-building efforts. Lessons from postponed and held election during the first wave of Covid-19 includes numerous examples of crisis-management practices(Asplund & James 2020; Birch et al 2020; EIP 2022; International IDEA 2020; International IDEA 2021). The existence of crisis-management processes will determine the effectiveness of electoral administration and other state institutions in restoring the continuity of the electoral process.

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A single framework that combines best practices from risk management, resilience building and crisis management will further strengthen a whole-of-society approachto the delivery of elections during emergencies.

The Impact of Natural Hazards on Elections Project

To gain a better understanding of how natural hazards can have an impact on elections, International IDEA has initiated a project on the topic that seeks to provide findingsand recommendations for the election and disaster risk reduction community. To date, International IDEA has published a dashboard that provides an overview of elections that have been affected by natural hazards as well asthree case studies focusing on elections and natural hazards, namely: Hurricane Idai and Kenneth ahead of the October 2019 General and Provincial Assembly elections; wildfires amid the 2016 and 2018 US General Elections; and the November 2010 Haiti Presidential and Legislative election following the January 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Tomas. All the case studies are available on International IDEA’s ‘impact of natural hazards on elections’ page, which will be updated with new analyses and publications on a regular basis.

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What is a disaster long answer? ›

Disasters are serious disruptions to the functioning of a community that exceed its capacity to cope using its own resources. Disasters can be caused by natural, man-made and technological hazards, as well as various factors that influence the exposure and vulnerability of a community.

What are the 3 effects of disaster? ›

In general three outcomes are possible: recovery, stagnation, or decline.

What are the 3 types of disasters? ›

Disasters are classified into natural disasters, man-made disasters, and hybrid disasters.

What are the 9 natural disaster? ›

Various phenomena like earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, tsunamis, cyclones, wildfires, and pandemics are all natural hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year.

What is a disaster in 100 words? ›

A disaster is a serious disruption, occurring over a relatively short time, of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.

What are the 4 effects of natural disasters on human life? ›

Conceptual framework. The immediate effects of a natural disaster materialize through four main channels: loss of life; destruction of physical capital (e.g. housing, commercial buildings, vehicles, andc infrastructure such as roads); population displacement; and disruption of economic activity.

How do natural disasters affect human life? ›

In a disaster, you face the danger of death or physical injury. You may also lose your home, possessions, and community. Such stressors place you at risk for emotional and physical health problems. Stress reactions after a disaster look very much like the common reactions seen after any type of trauma.

How can we prevent natural disasters? ›

So the first step to preventing potential natural disasters is reducing pollutant emissions. It is also necessary to make states more resilient by looking forwards and preparing countries to deal with climate-related risks, from adopting conservation and restoration measures to improving infrastructure.

Which are the 4 elements of a disaster? ›

Emergency managers think of disasters as recurring events with four phases: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

What are the 4 classification of a disaster? ›

The natural disaster category being divided into six disaster groups: Biological, Geophysical, Meteorological, Hydrological, Climatological and Extra-Terrestrial.

What are the 4 types of disaster? ›

Hydrological (e.g. Avalanches and Floods) Climatological (e.g. Extreme Temperatures, Drought and Wildfires) Meteorological (e.g. Cyclones and Storms/Wave Surges) Biological (e.g. Disease Epidemics and Insect/Animal Plagues)

What is a disaster Grade 9? ›

A disaster is defined as a disruption on a massive scale, either natural or man-made, occurring in short or long periods. Disasters can lead to human, material, economic or environmental hardships, which can be beyond the bearable capacity of the affected society.

What are the 20 types of natural disasters? ›

  • Hurricanes and tropical storms.
  • Landslides & debris flow.
  • Thunderstorms and lighting.
  • Tornadoes.
  • Tsunamis.
  • Wildfire.
  • Winter and ice storms.
  • Sinkholes.

What are natural disasters Grade 7? ›

Natural Disasters are catastrophic events that result from any of the Earth's natural phenomena. These can range from floods and hurricanes to tsunamis and earthquakes. The Earth, over its 4.54 billion-year history, has seen many natural disasters.

What is a disaster in essay? ›

"A disaster is a natural or man-made event that negatively affects life, property, livelihood or industry often resulting in permanent changes to human societies, ecosystems and environment."

What is disaster easy word? ›

A disaster is defined as a "sudden or great misfortune" or simply "any unfortunate event." More precisely, a disaster is "an event whose timing is unexpected and whose consequences are seriously destructive." These definitions identify an event that includes three elements: Suddenness.

What is disaster Class 5? ›

A natural disaster is the damage or destruction caused by natural forces. It results in a great loss of life and property. Earthquake is a natural disaster. It can occur without any warning.

What are the effects of natural disasters essay? ›

The effects of natural disasters are both short-term including loss of life and damage to property and long-term affecting the economic stability of a region or a country. Damage to infrastructure and energy production centers lead to adverse effects on a country's economic development.

Who is responsible for natural disasters? ›

- Men have resulted in the process of climate change and it is the prime reason behind most of the natural calamities witnessed in the present world. - Global warming, which is converting into a slow onset disaster, is a result of human interference with nature.

Who is responsible for disaster? ›

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex body for Disaster Management in India.

How can we keep ourselves safe during the disaster Brainly? ›

Answer. Take cover under a sturdy table or other pieces of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

How can students reduce the impact of natural disasters? ›

Develop Your Own Plans
  1. Create an evacuation plan. In some situations, you will need to get out of dodge. ...
  2. Create a shelter-in-place plan. In some cases, you'll need to stay put for your own safety. ...
  3. Discuss a communication plan. ...
  4. Consider your specific needs. ...
  5. Learn first aid and CPR. ...
  6. Practice!
14 Aug 2020

What are the impacts of natural disasters on economic growth? ›

Capital assets and infrastructure such as housing, schools, factories and equipment, roads, dams and bridges are lost. Human capital is depleted due to the loss of life, the loss of skilled workers and the destruction of education infrastructure that disrupts schooling.

How have humans learned to live and survive in areas where natural hazards occur? ›

How have humans learned to live and survive in areas where natural hazards occur? They have adapted buildings and structures to withstand the hazard. They have put up large walls to keep the hazard out. They use more renewable energy to reduce how severe the hazards are.

How can you help in your community when disaster occur as a student? ›

How to Help Your Community After a Natural Disaster
  1. Send Funds or Crucial Supplies. Usually the most effective way to help victims of a natural disaster or emergency is to donate to a disaster relief organization. ...
  2. Volunteer to Help. ...
  3. Donate Blood.

What are suggestions to improve community preparedness? ›

Create and improve preparedness plans

These may include law and order, providing vulnerable populations with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and staple goods; Hold regular training, drills and exercises for all aspects of the wider emergency response “system” including community elements and volunteers.

Why is it important to prepare for a disaster? ›

Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a powerful storm.

Can we control the disaster? ›

We cannot entirely avoid disasters, but we can prepare for and address them. Prevention efforts and coordinated responses to disasters save lives and lessen their impact on communities.

Can we stop disasters? ›

Can We Prevent Disasters? We can't stop natural phenomena from happening. But we can make them less damaging if we understand better why they happen, and what we can do to prevent or mitigate them.

What are the 4 main steps of an emergency action plan? ›

Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of Emergency Management.
  • Prevention. Actions taken to avoid an incident. ...
  • Mitigation. ...
  • Preparedness. ...
  • Response. ...
  • Recovery.

What are the 5 stages of disaster management? ›

Inappropriate development processes can lead to increased vulnerability to disasters and loss of preparedness for emergency situations.
  • Mitigation. ...
  • Preparedness. ...
  • Response. ...
  • Recovery. ...
  • References.

What are the 3 main components of disaster management? ›

The three phases of a disaster program are disaster planning, disaster management and disaster recovery.

What are the 7 types of disaster? ›

These types of disasters include:
  • Tornadoes and Severe Storms.
  • Hurricanes and Tropical Storms.
  • Floods.
  • Wildfires.
  • Earthquakes.
  • Drought.
27 Sept 2022

What are the 6 levels of disaster management? ›

The six phases of Disaster Management : 1) mitigation; 2) preparedness; 3) Prevention ,4) Rehabilitation 5) response; and 6) recovery.

What is a disaster for Class 8? ›

Answer: A disaster is defined as a disruption on a massive scale, either natural or man-made, occurring in short or long periods of time. Disasters can lead to human, material, economic or environmental hardships, which can be beyond the bearable capacity of the affected society.

What is a disaster for Class 6? ›

Answer: (a) A sudden happening that causes enormous damage to life, property and social aspects of a nation or society is called a disaster.

What are natural disasters Grade 6? ›

Natural disasters are catastrophic events caused by nature and Earth's natural processes. When they strike, they can result in severe loss of life and massive property damage, particularly when they occur in heavily populated areas. There are many different kinds of natural disasters.

What are 15 man-made disasters? ›

List of Man-Made Disasters by Type
  • Chemical Spill. The Bhopal disaster in 1984 is considered the worst chemical spill in history. ...
  • Structural Collapse. ...
  • Drinking Water Contamination. ...
  • Transport Disasters. ...
  • Mining Accidents. ...
  • Explosions and Fires. ...
  • Nuclear and Radiation Accidents. ...
  • Grid Failure.
16 Sept 2022

Why are natural disasters caused? ›

Different disasters occur due to various causes. Causes for such calamities can be contributed to deforestation, soil erosion, and pollution. The major causes of catastrophic disasters are natural phenomena occurring in the earth's crust as well as on the surface.

Why are natural disasters harmful? ›

Natural disasters generally constitute an emergency since they require immediate intervention due to their high impact on human health and safety; they affect the normal functioning of working infrastructure, interrupting normal day activities and representing a risk for residents and workers in affected areas.

What causes natural disasters for kids? ›

Natural disasters are caused by nature, such as tornadoes, ice storms, severe weather and flooding. Too much rain and snow, or heavy winds can topple and uproot trees, cause damage to homes and buildings, and cut off electricity, water and telephones. Sometimes, violent weather can cause people to get hurt.

What is the full meaning of natural disaster? ›

A natural disaster is characterized by the abnormal intensity of a natural agent (flood, mudslide, earthquake, avalanche, drought) when the usual measures to be taken to prevent this damage were not able to prevent their emergence or were not able to be taken.

What are natural hazards for kids? ›

They are caused by the forces of nature and may result in loss of life, injury, and damage to property. There are many types of natural disaster, including avalanche, drought, earthquake, flooding, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, volcanic eruption, and wildfire.

What is disaster Class 9 long answer? ›

A disaster is defined as a disruption on a massive scale, either natural or man-made, occurring in short or long periods. Disasters can lead to human, material, economic or environmental hardships, which can be beyond the bearable capacity of the affected society.

What is a disaster 150 words? ›

Sample Essay of Disaster Management (150 Words)

Disaster can be simply termed as a sudden incident or happening which can be either natural or man-made and can potentially cause damage to the surroundings or loss of human life.

What is disaster in about 150 to 200 words? ›

A disaster is a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disturbs the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and environmental losses that exceed the community's or society's ability to cope with using its own resources.

What is disaster management class 9 long answer? ›

Disaster management means that all such measures should be taken so that hazard can not take the form of disaster. Since, we can not prevent the coming of many natural hazards but can reduce their harmful effects by proper management in order to minimize the loss of life and asset.

What are the 3 types of disasters Class 9? ›

Geological Disaster: Landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes. Biological Disaster: Viral epidemics, pest attacks, cattle epidemic and locust plagues. Industrial Disaster: Chemical and industrial accidents, mine shaft fires, oil spills.

What are the 4 types of disasters? ›

Types of Disaster[edit | edit source]
  • Geophysical (e.g. Earthquakes, Landslides, Tsunamis and Volcanic Activity)
  • Hydrological (e.g. Avalanches and Floods)
  • Climatological (e.g. Extreme Temperatures, Drought and Wildfires)
  • Meteorological (e.g. Cyclones and Storms/Wave Surges)

What should be the role of community during a disaster Class 10th? ›

i. To search the victims and timely rescue them to safety. ii. To provide first aid to victims and transport them to hospitals.

What are 50 natural disaster words? ›

A natural disaster is a major event caused by the natural processes of the Earth, consisting of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and other geologic processes. A natural disaster causes loss of life or property damage, and leaves some economic damage afterwards costing millions.

What is man-made disaster Class 9? ›

They are caused by human activity. The following are the examples: Chemical spills, hazardous material spills, explosives, chemical or biological attacks, nuclear blasts, rail accidents, airline crashes, or groundwater poisoning are all instances of man-made disasters.

How can we prevent disasters? ›

We cannot entirely avoid disasters, but we can prepare for and address them.
  1. Raising awareness about potential hazards and how to address them.
  2. Educating the public about how to properly prepare for different types of disaster.
  3. Installing and strengthening prediction and warning systems.
3 Sept 2021

What are the effects of disaster on human life? ›

In a disaster, you face the danger of death or physical injury. You may also lose your home, possessions, and community. Such stressors place you at risk for emotional and physical health problems. Stress reactions after a disaster look very much like the common reactions seen after any type of trauma.

How can natural disasters be prevented? ›

So the first step to preventing potential natural disasters is reducing pollutant emissions. It is also necessary to make states more resilient by looking forwards and preparing countries to deal with climate-related risks, from adopting conservation and restoration measures to improving infrastructure.

Why is disaster management important short answer? ›

Disaster management measures can help removing people and property from a threatened location by facilitating timely and effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation at the place of disaster thereby reducing loss of property, protecting people and reducing trauma among people.

What is a disaster for Class 7? ›

A Natural disaster is an unforeseen occurrence of an event that causes harm to society. There are many Natural disasters that damage the environment and the people living in it. Some of them are earthquakes, cyclones, floods, Tsunami, landslides, volcanic eruption, and avalanches.


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