Twenty-three representatives from the Malagasy Electoral Commission, civil society organizations, political parties and women’s associations, participated in a BRIDGE workshop on voter information in Antananarivo, Madagascar, from 16 to 18 April 2014. This training was organized by UNDP Madagascar, in the framework of its Electoral Project (PACEM), with the financial support of the European Union and Japan.
During the three-day workshop on voter information several topics were covered, from the principles and types of voter information to planning and developing tools. During the first day the differences among civic education, voter education and voter information were discussed among the participants as well as the reasons to carry on campaigns related to each of them. The second day began by introducing to participants the legal framework covering the right to voter information access. These notions served to frame the following exercise on how to engage under-represented groups, noticeably the women and the young in voter information activities. For the last day, participants were put in the active role of preparing public voter information sessions and developing tools such as posters, banners, scripts for audio-visual spots and jingles. Once again, the exercises served to raise a debate on the advantages and disadvantages of different voter information tools and the elements to take into consideration when conceiving and planning a voter information national program.
During the 2013 presidential and legislative elections in Madagascar, it was a national consensus that priority has to be given to improving voter education in the future. Developing a national voter education and information strategy adapted to the reality of a vast and diverse country as Madagascar is the main challenge at stake for the elections to come. This training has strengthened the capacities of participants in this field and allowed participants to engage in a debate on how to better coordinate voter information activities in the near future.
The facilitation team was composed by Roger BUPIRI (DRC, accrediting facilitator) team leader, Lluís Juan Rodríguez (Spain, workshop facilitator) and Sheila Serrano (Bolivia, semi-accredited facilitator). The latest was fully accredited as a workshop facilitator during this training, becoming the first Bolivian BRIDGE workshop facilitator.