Anticipating the upcoming Local Elections in March 2013, State Election Commission of Macedonia (SEC) organized three Access to the Electoral Process workshops during October 2012. The target group for these workshops was the SEC Regional Offices staff, as a crucial part of the electoral administration in Macedonia.
As part of the OSCE project “Promoting international electoral standards and practices”, the workshops were funded and supported by the OSCE Mission to Skopje.
The workshops were held in:
1) Skopje (8-9 October) for the staff from the Skopje area,
2) Shtip (15-16 October) for the staff from the Eastern Macedonia, and
3) Bitola (18-19 October) for the staff from the Western Macedonia.
In total, 76 participants completed the Module, of which 23 in the first, 21 in the second, and 22 in the third group.
The workshops were facilitated by Ljupka Guguchevska (lead facilitator, SEC of Macedonia), Zage Filipovski (OSCE Mission to Skopje) and Dobre Jancev (SEC of Macedonia).
Due to the fact that the main activities of the regional staff during the year are about protecting the electoral right – both active (right to vote) and passive (right to run as candidate/s), and also updating and maintaining the Voters List, Access to the Electoral Process was more than necessary to discuss during this pre-elections period. The access issues are even more actualized now that new provisions concerning access to the voting procedure are implemented in the Electoral Code of Macedonia.
Since the personal data protection is becoming even more sensitive issue nowadays, we also incorporated one session regarding application of technical and organizational measures to protect the personal data both of the voters and the candidates.
During the workshop days, we managed to meet the workshop objectives:
o Identifying people who may have special access needs in the election process, e.g. who have access issues due to their race, age, sexual orientation, minority status, language, literacy level, citizenship status, level of mental or physical ability, past or current incarceration, socio-economic status, place of residency or employment, employment status, health etc.
o Gaining appreciation of access-related electoral issues and concerns
o Identifying potential areas of discrimination in electoral processes
o Acquiring skills in identifying and analyzing concerns through case examples of strategies and practices to address concerns.
For most of the participants this was the first time to meet the BRIDGE methodology, and we had a very positive feedback from every one of them. They highly rated both the BRIDGE methodology and the presented topics:
“This is the first time I’m participating in such an interesting training. BRIDGE is the methodology you should keep implementing in future trainings.”
“I haven’t heard about BRIDGE before this workshop. I’m looking forward to participating in more BRIDGE workshops.”
“Sometimes we forget that the access issues might occur. This was a great way to remind us.”
“We are all humans and have the same rights. We should never forget that. And I appreciate the way you brought this to our minds.”
The cooperation between State Election Commission of Macedonia and OSCE Mission to Skopje continues with organization of more BRIDGE workshops. Next, we will be holding the Pre-Election Activities module in December this year: