All 20 participants to this TtF were Colombian; 18 came from the Registraduria National del Estado Civil and 2 from the Consejo Nacional de Elecciones (National Elections Council, equivalent of an Elections Commission). The Workshop was facilitated by a team of five: Nicolas Garrigue (IDEA Consultant), as lead facilitator, Alexandra Pravatiner (from the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones in Peru), as Workshop Facilitator, and three semi-accredited Colombian facilitators: German Enrique Guevara, José Asdrubal Zapata and Juan José Palacios, all from the Directorate of Electoral Administration at the RNEC. All three received their full accreditation during this 4-day event. This brings the total number of Colombia facilitators to 4 and Spanish-speaking facilitators to 13 individuals. The BRIDGE team is growing slowly but steadily on the Latin American continent!
Thanks to the good-humored Colombians and their thirst for innovative professional development on electoral matters, the Workshop went extremely well. polling, counting and results announcement procedures from Colombia and other countries’ were analyzed in details and discussions on areas for improvement were very lively. Several role-plays were run (with lots of excitement!) and countless group brainstorming exercises on various areas of polling day processes held. Elections in Colombia face a number of problems, starting with a rather low turn-out, a poor understanding of procedures and principles to be followed by electoral stakeholders at the local level (Polling Juries, Party Agents, Control Organs) and lengthy electoral dispute resolution processes.
The 20 Workshop participants, all from the central office of the RNEC and CNE, who are heavily involved in their daily work in designing procedures and in training electoral stakeholders at field level, produced on the last day of the Workshop four different two-days training programs on polling, counting & results, inspired from the BRIDGE Module, for different categories of key electoral actors at the local level. These pilot programs will be tested very soon, during the primary elections for all Colombian political parties, which will take place at the end of September 2009 and are organized by the RNEC.
Next, the RNEC and the CNE hope to be able to organize a new BRIDGE Workshop for political party representatives at the beginning of 2010. This would also be the occasion to accredit more Colombia facilitators so that BRIDGE workshops can be rolled out across this vast and fascinating country.