The modernization of the Moldovan electoral process and the institutional consolidation of the Central Electoral Commission of Moldova (CEC) have been supported by the UNDP Moldova Democracy Programme. As a tool towards improving the capacity of CEC, improving the institutional environment for EMBs to deliver inclusive and modern electoral processes, and improving the registration process in Moldova, the Programme has been using BRIDGE as a key component of UNDP electoral assistance worldwide.
Since 2009, there have been ten thematic BRIDGE module workshops held in Moldova, and the CEC members and staff participated in regional module workshops and one regional TtF as well. As a further step towards meeting the objectives set, the Programme organized a five-days BRIDGE workshop on Access to Electoral Processes, held in Chisinau, 11-15 November 2013. The workshop was facilitated by Ljupka Guguchevska (lead BRIDGE facilitator) and Corneliu Pasat (BRIDGE facilitator), supported by two national BRIDGE facilitators: Doina Bordeianu and Mariana Musteatsa.
The organizer invited 18 participants at the workshop: members of the CEC staff, professionals from the Ministry of Interiors, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Center for Continuous Training.
The main objectives of the workshop were reached through meeting the specific key understandings and learning outcomes, set for every day of the workshop accordingly:
1) Identifying areas of the electoral process where access an issue what access problems, what parts of the population are affected, and what solutions exist
2) Providing a networking opportunity for advocacy groups, as well as specific tools to analyze the electoral structures and procedures and develop strategies to promote access.
3) Emphasizing the importance of consultation processes throughout the electoral cycle from post-election analysis through design of materials and procedures in order to affect real improvement of access.
During the process of preparations for the workshop, and having in mind the practical difficulties that Moldova is facing providing access to the electoral process for the citizens living out of the country, facilitators decided that on day 2 a session on external voting should be incorporated. Running this session, the facilitators confirmed that participants gained the ability to develop a list of voting methods that can be used for external voting (taking financial, logistical and political aspects into account) and name their advantages and disadvantages, and the ability to identify methods for voters’ registration for this category of voters.
During the last day’s activities, practicing their ability to propose, plan for, and describe realistic policies and procedures that will better enable access to the electoral process for target categories who have limited or no access in particular in the case of Moldova, participants created list of instructions for providing access for the disabled people, and came out with interesting new ideas and solutions for the access issues in Moldova.
Participants considered that the proposed solutions would provide improved access to the voting process for the disabled people, since they cover the pre-election day period, the Election Day itself, and assessment that will serve for further improvement.
Participants highly rated the content of the workshop sessions, and the activities and methodology through which this content was applied as well. These are just several quotes from participants, regarding the knowledge they gained during the workshop sessions:
“Disabled people are humans as well, and we shouldn’t make difference.”
“I have learned about human rights, the importance of every vote, and that disabilities are not impediments.”
“I gained a lot of information about people with disabilities I can use in my future work.”
“I appreciate that practices from other countries in raising awareness about access issues were shared with us.”
”Now I have a clear idea how should an educational poster look like.”
“Today I have learned how to inform and how to get to the hearts of people with disabilities through informational campaigns.”
The process of providing full access to the electoral process for the different vulnerable categories of voters will take a long time, a lot of willingness, effort, and patience as well. The important thing as an outcome from this workshop is to remain committed towards improvement of the current situation. Including the trained participants in this process will secure the sustainability of Access to Electoral Processes workshop, and improve the access to the electoral process for the vulnerable categories of voters of the Republic of Moldova.