Electoral Training, 9-11 July; Pre-Election Activities, 14-16 July; and Counting, Polling and Results, 17-18 July. Funding for this capacity building program in electoral administration was provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Training (DFAT).
The aim of the workshops (which followed on from a two-day PIANZEA Network Meeting on 7-8 July) was to further develop knowledge and capacity of Pacific Electoral Management Body (EMB) staff to administer elections, to result in higher standards of electoral management and professionalism which produce more credible elections in the Region. The workshops also provided opportunity for four BRIDGE PIANZEA facilitators to gain further experience in planning, observing and presenting BRIDGE.
Participants attending the workshops were from Papua New Guinea (4), Vanuatu (4), Timor-Leste (3), Samoa (5), Tonga (2), Palau (3), the Federated States of Micronesia (4), the Republic of Marshall Islands (3), Kiribati (4) and Niue (3).
The workshops were officially opened, by Robert Pugsley, Acting AEC State Manager for Queensland (QLD), with support from Gordon Marshall, Acting Director Operations, AEC QLD. Robert Pugsley and Gordon Marshall again joined the group at the close of the workshops to issue certificates to participants.
The workshops were facilitated by Brian Latham (AEC), Cate Thompson (AEC – Pre-Election Activities only), Denise Hogarth (AEC), Gary Tovoa (Vanuatu), Margaret Vagi (PNG), Maria Decherong (Palau) and Vake Blake (Tonga). Kathy Pidgeon and Jane Donnelly, AEC Queensland semi-accredited facilitators, supported the main facilitator team by participating in a module each.
Vake Blake and Kathy Pidgeon were accredited as BRIDGE Workshop Facilitators in the course of the workshops.
The workshops explored aspects of each of the three modules which were chosen as a result of a survey of PIANZEA members requesting an indication as to which BRIDGE modules they thought would be of greatest value.
The workshops consisted of three days each of selected activities from the Electoral Training and Pre-Election Activities modules and two days from the Polling, Counting and Results module.
Areas covered included…
Electoral Training – definitions, principles and terminology of training; working with stakeholders; trainer selection and training the trainer; needs assessment; training timeline and matrixes; writing of training materials; the general training environment; and capacity building.
Pre-Election Activities – the electoral cycle; operational planning; key elements of logistics; time management and timetables; polling and counting locations; staffing; polling station kits; transport, packaging, storage, distribution and security of materials; and contingency planning.
Polling, Counting and Results – the polling environment; the roles and tasks of electoral administrators; planning the polling station; preparing for and conducting the count; publishing results; and dealing with observers.
The participants and facilitators between them created a most enjoyable, very often humorous climate in the workshops, the participants adopting a focussed, positive and participatory approach, obviously seeking to benefit from the experience. There was much knowledge and many an experience shared in an enjoyable, effective learning environment.
Participant feedback on both the workshop content and facilitator presentation was highly positive. As the three workshops covered topics most relevant to all attending EMBs, there was a particular appreciation of the ability to network and share the experiences, knowledge and points of view of participants from the different countries and electoral environments involved.
Positive participant feedback included (What I learnt or found enjoyable/useful)…
· All sessions for the day were enjoyable and very useful – indeed, discussing ideas and experiences from different counties demonstrates the different and in some instances similar, environments all EMBs are faced with.
· Very enjoyable and useful as a part-time EMB in my country
· I’ve learned everything about training today
· Methodologies used to teach and train us
· What are top priority in other countries are not really applicable to our countries
· Group discussions and clear explanations, seeing it for the first time I’ve attended BRIDGE training. Something new to learn every day about getting or going through an election
· Working as a group from different organisations/countries is clearly the best way to better your organizational need in terms of its advantages and weaknesses. New ways or techniques can be used to upgrade your training needs.
· The regrouping which makes us know more – I gain experience from different countries.
· Group work and presentations were fantastic!
· Useful techniques and role plays help me to understand the importance of good planning.
· Lots of similarities and few differences in election work amongst the Pacific countries.
· Debate was fun and very informative – helped me learn more and remember the key concepts!
· The many diverse ways each EMB does things in their procedures – uniquely different – but it also adds flavor to our election experience.
· It’s good to review/reflect on what we have and to learn what others practice to make polling effective (such) that we have the public trust of the people we serve.