Elections are central to democratic politics. They offer citizens an opportunity to choose representatives and government officials, and provide governments with a legitimate basis for exercising power. The quality of elections has a direct effect on the nature of democracy itself. In recent years, Taiwan's political system has undergone a dramatic transition and has nearly completed the transition from authoritarianism to consolidated democracy. Since elections have played and will continue to play a key role in this process of democratization, it is essential to undertake continuous and systematic research into election practices in order to both strengthen the foundations of democracy and also to raise the quality of elections.
With this in mind, Professor Lei Fei-lung and a number of colleagues began negotiating with National Chengchi University and the Ministry of Education in 1981 for the establishment of an Election Study Center at NCCU. Pending official approval of the center, Professor Lei and Professor Chen Yih-yan borrowed an office at NCCU and began research in 1983. On January 27, 1989, the Ministry of Education finally authorized the establishment of the center, and it formally opened in October of that year with Professor Chen as its first director. During Professor Chen's six years as director, he laid the foundations for future growth of the ESC through such actions as installing a computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system, executing various sorts of research projects, opening an election research library, establishing a database of election data, and organizing a scholarly journal, Election Research. Professor Chen's term as director expired in October 1995, and he was succeeded by Professor Huang Teh-fu. In March 1997, Professor Huang was given a portfolio in the cabinet, and he was succeeded as director of the ESC by Professor Hung Yung-tai. Professor Hung's expertise in statistics and methodology have strengthened the ESC's ability to both predict and explain the outcome of elections. On November 2000, Professor Liu I-Chou inaugurated the ESC director. Then on February 2005, Professor Yu Ching-hsin inaugurated the ESC director. In 2009, Professor Chen Lu-huei inaugurated the ESC director. On August 2014, Research Fellow Tsai Chai-hung inaugurated the ESC director.