Georgia McCormick

April 7, 2021

IFES-CEC Ukraine Training Center conducted an online Electoral Systems’ workshop

The BRIDGE modular workshop on Electoral Systems was conducted on March 10-12, 2021, by the IFES Ukraine in cooperation with the joint IFES-Central Election Commission (CEC) Administrative Center for the Training of Elections Process Participants and with the financial support of USAID and Global Affairs Canada.  The workshop was held remotely using the online conference platform ZOOM and additional online tools in order to keep the traditional interactive nature of the BRIDGE workshops.   The aim of the workshop was to provide participants with knowledge on the characteristics of all electoral systems’ families and then to make a thorough analysis of each electoral system. Besides, all the workshop activities were intended to facilitate participants’ understanding of the effects of different electoral systems on women’s representation in parliaments. The workshop was held in Ukrainian language and was facilitated by BRIDGE workshop-level facilitators Evgeniy Krikopolo, Anastasiia Matviienko, Alyona Sheshenia, and Anna Denis (Bandurka). Twenty participants from the CEC, CSOs, and political parties attended the workshop (out of which five were male and fifteen female). ​Some of the start-up activities created the basis for understanding principles of the electoral systems design that later led to analyzing electoral systems within each family: Participants were asked to rank priorities for the electoral system design based on their understanding. While within the workshop, participants were provided with the understanding that different electoral systems contribute to fulfilling different priorities. The principle of representation and its different forms were explained to the participants. This session content later led to the discussion, what type of representation can offer the electoral system. Another start-up session focused on the main elements of the electoral system design. During the whole workshop, electoral systems were examined regarding a) District Magnitude: MMD vs. SMD; b) Ballot Structure: Categorical vs. Preferential; Party vs. Candidate oriented; c) Electoral Formula: Plurality vs. Majority vs. Proportional to the share of votes. All sessions on systems’ technical characteristics were highly interactive and enabled participants to test all types of electoral systems in practice. Participants had the opportunity to try themselves in voters’ role, which ensured a better understanding of each electoral system’s voting and counting procedures. Having covered all presented electoral systems, participants were tasked to analyze which system was “the most fair”; as well as to choose an appropriate electoral system for an imaginary society based on the provided circumstances. Participants in separate groups received a description of the “x” country’s social, economic, and political peculiarities. Participants had to first determine the most critical priorities for the described society and only then to choose which electoral system could contribute to the fulfillment of identified priorities. At the end of the workshop, participants concluded that the electoral system’s choice is fundamental for further country’s development. Therefore, the reforming of it is a sensitive issue that requires a balanced approach. […]
March 26, 2021

Virtual BRIDGE Comes to PIANZEA

After a long and productive relationship with face-to-face BRIDGE, the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the first virtual BRIDGE workshop for the Pacific Island, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators’ (PIANZEA) network. From 8-12 March, 2021, a Voter and Civic Education Workshop was conducted for participants from Fiji, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (unfortunately, connectivity issues meant that our colleague from the Marshalls was only able to join us for one day). In fact, this workshop was a world first for a number of reasons. Using Zoom, we connected with nine countries and four separate cities in Australia simultaneously. It was also the first time that two TTF complete facilitators attained their Workshop accreditation in a virtual environment. The group was small – only 8 – but the small size did not have a negative impact on the quality of the interactions. In fact, it was fortuitous in some respects as it made dealing with technical issues a little more manageable. The facilitation team comprised of Vake Blake for the Tonga Electoral Commission, Ross Attrill for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The two facilitators completing their workshop accreditation were David Stuart and Julie Igglesden, both of the AEC. It was definitely a novel experience for both Julie and David but one they enjoyed. Workshop organisers from the PIANZEA secretariat were present in each session to provide technical support. They played a valuable role as a second set of eyes for Facilitators to assist them with managing the virtual format as there are many different tools to control. This included taking note of hands raised, questions in the chat box and working with participants to address technical issues. This role also served as a back up to share tools such as Menti or presentations if the Facilitators’ systems froze. This role helped to ensure the smooth running of the workshop and freed up Facilitators so they could focus on their core role. The value of their administrative and organizational work prior to the workshop and their technical assistance during the workshop cannot be understated and I would recommend this type of support for any virtual BRIDGE workshop. Julie and David performed brilliantly under, at times, very challenging circumstances. They were valuable members of the team, often helping out with PowerPoint and Mentimeter presentations. In fact, they both looked like they had been conducting BRIDGE for years. It was a very easy decision to recommend them both as Workshop facilitators. As expressed by one of them: “I was most impressed by how we worked so well as team to jump in and assist when someone had trouble sharing a screen, or needed assistance with any of the software used in the workshop.” The program itself was developed as 5 half days, each day with a particular theme. The themes were: Day 1 – Definitions, First principles and the Eight Steps in Voter and Civic Education Day 2 – Designing your Program Day 3 – Implementing your Program Day 4 – Monitoring Evaluating and Documenting your Program Day 5 – Make it Happen: What Next in Your Work Place Each day was based around a series of activities which helped introduce the daily theme to the participants. There was a short break mid-morning and the activities continued until about 1.00pm, at which time the participants were split into two groups and given an hour to develop a presentation based on a hypothetical challenge. They were then required to use what they had learnt on that day to develop solutions to that challenge. The next day began with the group presentations. The high quality of the presentations indicated that the participants had gained a lot from the activity sessions and that they were motivated to look for solutions appropriate their particular context. This was supported by participant comments such as: “The training is very informative for me as it is my first time to be involved with VCE, and I feel the need to educate our young citizens on voting and the electoral system. It will be more effective for a small country like ours to establish an independent office for the Electoral Commission.” And “Thank you Once again facilitators. Very impressive how you’re getting on with the trial on delivering the topics in a much shorter time for each session as it was usually done in a normal BRIDGE face to face delivery mode.” We were very lucky that some of the participants had extensive knowledge and experience in the subject matter. As always in PIANZEA, they generously shared their experience in the true Pacific way. There were lots of facilitation lessons to be learned from the 5 days. Firstly, we had to deal with the vagaries of the connectivity of each country and to adjust to ensure everyone spent as much time as possible on line. This involved creative use of chat facilities and phone based platforms. Prior to and during the program all facilitators discussed and reviewed the practicality and success of activities for the online format. This planning and real time evaluation allowed for a variety of successful adaptations to existing activities as well as testing different interactive methods of presentation including the more low-tech live brainstorm [facilitator types into document on a shared screen] to Menti [tech enabled live polls, quizzes and word clouds]. We also soon realized how draining the virtual environment was for all concerned. Although we only worked half days, it may be worth looking at shortening days further or perhaps running two days in one week and three in another. What definitely worked was the thematic days and the group presentations. It gave the workshop the focus it needed and the participants the opportunity to express their ideas in a very BRIDGE like way. All in all, it was very positive and constructive experience as evidenced by the amount of knowledge gained between the pre and post tests. It proved to me that BRIDGE works best in a face to face context but that it can still be a powerful tool when the only alternative is a virtual workshop. Ross Attrill […]
February 11, 2021

Voter and Civic Education workshop in Kyrgyzstan

UNDP Kyrgyzstan in cooperation with the Central Election Commission of Kyrgyz Republic, and with the financial support of Government of Switzerland, conducted a BRIDGE modular workshop on Voter and Civic Education V3. The workshop aimed to examine approaches on civic education, electoral education and voter information. Participants were trained on how to build effective voter education programs and build long term strategies on civic education. The practical part included the development of the voter education complex program for Kyrgyzstan local elections scheduled for April 2021. Therefore, the workshop was constructed on Eight Step approach of implementing the VCE program. The workshop was conducted on January 26-30, 2021 at “Ak Maral” Hotel, in Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan. The workshop was facilitated by international facilitators Iuliia Shypilova and Tetyana Bibik. Thirty-nine participants from the CEC of Kyrgyz Republic, local NGOs, educational institutions and academia attended the workshop. The sessions engaged the participants with high interaction and enabled them to discuss the various steps of development and implementation of the Voter and Civic Education Programs. Some of the sessions encouraged participants to be creative and engaged them to develop their own voter education programs for the upcoming elections. CEC Kyrgyzstan emphasized on the importance of such workshop as the basis for establishing the curricula for the CEC’s Center for Civic Education. The workshop has met its objectives. Final evaluation was arranged by targeting the stakeholders’ learning outcomes and future usage of the knowledge. Participants marked the value of mixed groups of participants where there is a place to develop broader civic education programs. Many participants noted the value of the international experience given within five days. Also, participants marked interactive approach of the workshop and lots of practical exercises. At the end, all the participants have received certificates in recognition of completion of 5-day VCE workshop. […]
January 6, 2021

Gender Equality and Elections workshop series for various stakeholders in Ethiopia

UN Women Ethiopia organized two 3,5 days BRIDGE workshops on Gender Equality and Elections to build the capacities of various stakeholders including Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, various Civil Society Organizations, Political Parties, National Elections Board of Ethiopia and UN Women staff.

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