Can artificial intelligence (AI) influence elections?

2024 is a landmark election year, with over 60 countries—encompassing nearly half of the global population—heading to the polls. Technology has long been used in electoral processes, such as e-voting, and it is a valuable tool in making this process efficient and secure.

However, recent advancements in artificial intelligence, particularly generative AI such as ChatGPT (OpenAI) and Copilot (Microsoft), could have an unprecedented impact on the electoral process. These digital innovations offer opportunities to improve electoral efficiency and voter engagement, but also raise concerns about potential misuse. AI can be used to harness big data to influence voter decision-making. Its capacity for launching cyberattacks, producing deepfakes, and spreading disinformation could destabilize democratic processes, threaten the integrity of political discourse, and erode public trust.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted AI’s dual nature in his address to the Security Council, noting that while AI can accelerate human development, it also poses significant risks if used maliciously. He stated, “The advent of generative AI could be a defining moment for disinformation and hate speech—undermining truth, facts, and safety, adding a new dimension to the manipulation of human behaviour and contributing to polarisation and instability on a vast scale.”

In this article, we will briefly explore the benefits and challenges that AI is bringing to the electoral process.

How can AI enhance electoral processes?

According to UNESCO’s Guide for Electoral Practitioners: “Elections in Digital Times,” AI has the potential to improve the efficiency and accuracy of elections. It reaches out to voters and engages with them more directly through personalised communication tailored to individual preferences and behaviour. AI-powered chatbots can provide real-time information about polling locations, candidate platforms, and voting procedures, making the electoral process more accessible and transparent.

AI also improves data management by ensuring accurate collection, storage, and analysis of extensive electoral data, enabling officials to make swift decisions and identify trends effectively. Automated systems make election administration more efficient by managing large datasets with speed and precision, significantly reducing human errors. This leads to more reliable and timely results, thereby reinforcing public trust in the electoral process. Additionally, AI strengthens electoral security by fortifying cybersecurity measures against cyber threats, ensuring the integrity and resilience of electoral infrastructure, by detecting anomalies and fraudulent activities.

Daniel Innerarity, in “Artificial Intelligence and Democracy,” noted that AI can engage voters individually in the electoral process through chatbots and social media discussion forums. It can gather valuable insights from user comments and enable real-time data analysis for campaign strategists to adjust their approaches accordingly based on public opinion.

Despite its benefits, AI used in the electoral process can also pose multiple risks, including the potential to manipulate voters and influence their decisions.

What are the potential risks associated with using AI in the electoral process?

The growing sophistication of AI-generated content makes disinformation more convincing and emotionally impactful. It is also easier to create and increasingly challenging to detect and counter. As AI technology advances, distinguishing between authentic information and falsehoods becomes more complex.

One of the most significant risks caused by AI is the potential spread of disinformation. AI-generated deepfakes—highly realistic but fake audio, video, and images—can be used to mislead voters and undermine trust in the electoral process. Deepfakes can make individuals appear to do or say things they never did. As highlighted by the UN Secretary-General, AI-enabled cyberattacks on critical infrastructure could seriously affect global peace and security as the technical and financial barriers to accessing AI tools are low.

The use of AI involves collecting and analysing vast amounts of personal data, which raises privacy concerns and necessitates robust data protection measures to maintain voter trust and comply with privacy laws.

The deployment of AI in elections raises numerous ethical questions, such as ensuring AI systems are free from bias and do not unfairly influence election outcomes. It is also crucial to determine who is responsible for overseeing AI use in electoral processes to ensure transparency and accountability. AI algorithms can be manipulated to favour certain candidates or parties, either intentionally or unintentionally. Biases in AI systems can arise from the data used to train them or the algorithms’ design. This can reinforce existing forms of discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping. Biased AI algorithms could unfairly influence voter behaviour, compromising the fairness of the electoral process.

These risks underscore the need for clear ethical guidelines and careful oversight to ensure AI is used responsibly.

What is being done to regulate the use of AI?

The United Nations (UN) has been advocating for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to AI governance, focusing on establishing global standards and ethical guidelines, developing national strategies, mitigating long-term global risks, addressing skill gaps, fostering international collaboration, developing regulatory frameworks, and enhancing public awareness.

The UN chief launched his new Advisory Body on AI, which includes experts from government, business, the tech community, civil society, and academia. Its role is to support the international community’s efforts to govern artificial intelligence.

Earlier this year, UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk warned that powerful propaganda and disinformation campaigns could disrupt elections, deceive people and spread misogyny and hate, and called for AI policies and practices anchored in human rights.

In March 2024, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, led by the United States and supported by over 120 member states, promoting “safe, secure, and trustworthy” AI systems that align with human rights and contribute to sustainable development. The resolution calls for all stakeholders to refrain from using AI in ways that violate human rights and emphasizes the need to bridge the digital divide, particularly aiding developing nations.

Through “AI for Good” summits, the UN facilitates international collaboration, sharing best practices and aligning AI development with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Regarding regional actors, in May 2024, the Council of the European Union approved the Artificial intelligence (AI) act, aiming to harmonise rules on artificial intelligence. This legislation aims to balance innovation, transparency, accountability, and fundamental rights protection by categorising AI systems based on risk. High-risk AI systems will face strict requirements, while extreme practices like cognitive behavioural manipulation and predictive policing will be banned. The AI Act will be enforced starting in 2026. This legislation is part of the EU’s broader regulatory strategy, which also includes the Code of Practice on Disinformation, mandating platforms to monitor political advertising, and the Digital Services Act, which establishes obligations for online services to ensure a safer digital environment.


The integration of AI into the electoral process can enhance voter engagement and improve security, making elections more efficient and inclusive. However, the risks of disinformation, cybersecurity threats, and biases must be carefully managed. Through the establishment of global standards, the UN is working to ensure that AI serves to reinforce democracy rather than undermine it. Safeguarding the integrity of information is particularly crucial for the transparency of elections. The international community must join forces to ensure that AI technologies strengthen democracy and promote active citizen participation, respecting freedom of opinion and expression.




Additional links and further reading:


Latest news