Election monitoring is a powerful tool in promoting democracy, political rights and good governance. Participants in this dialogue discussed the principles behind this tactic, the risks and challenges involved, and the techniques being used by practitioners to overcome these challenges. Election monitor practitioners share their experiences, challenges, successes, and resources with their colleagues in the field and the New Tactics online community of human rights practitioners.
This dialogue's Featured Resource Practitioners include: (more biographical information on these practitioners)
- Patrick Berg of Transparency International, and formerly with the Carter Center and the European Union
- Pat Merloe of National Democratic Institute
- Kwami Ahiabenu of The African Elections Project
- Dr. Roddy Brett fomerly the Deputy Chief of the Carter Center Observation Mission in Guatemala in 2003
- Ecaterine Siradze-Delaunay of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy in Georgia
- Matthew Easton of Human Rights First
- Evans Wafula, working independently as Human Rights and Media Development Consultant
Summary of dialogue
The discussion about elections monitoring began with a discussion about why election monitoring is important. Election monitoring can provide legitimacy for the international community as well as to provide a sense of trust in the country or community where the elections are being held. It can also be an avenue to help gain civil rights to repressed minorities.
Challenges that were discussed include the possibility of legitimizing a dictator with election results. Also discussed was the need to increase the time of election monitoring, including the run up to elections and afterwards, to make sure all rules are followed.
The role of international and domestic observers was discussed, including what different roles international and domestic observers can play, what expertise they can provide and how these can be integrated.
Tactics that were suggested included using cell phones, both with trained observers as well as citizens to communicate transgressions during voting on election days.
Also suggested was the coordination of a large number of NGOs to observe different parts of the election, which could be presented with a united front for greater legitimacy. Also, the use of Declaration of Principles and Code of Conduct for International Election Observation guidelines to help be effective was suggested.
There was agreement about the need both for the local population to be involved in any election monitoring, as well as the need for countries to have independent election boards to ensure impartiality.
Tactical mapping was also brought up as a useful tool when determining an effective strategy for election monitoring.