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October 18, 2011
Electoral Contestants synopsis
October 18, 2011

Analysis of two decades (and millions of dollars) of electoral assistance have led to a body of lessons learned and new approaches to support. Viewing electoral assistance within the wider context of democracy and governance support, supporting an electoral cycle rather than electoral event, and recognizing and identifying aspects of enhancing credibility are some examples of new thinking in this field.

Electoral assistance can take many forms, from the direct transfer of funds to ensure the holding of a specific electoral event or institutional support of an electoral management body) to broader programs such as those supporting professionalization of electoral administration on a regional or global basis, or supporting the development of networks of electoral stakeholders to better monitor or advocate for credible electoral processes.

The electoral assistance module is one of the new modules introduced in BRIDGE Version 2. It forms part of the stakeholder cluster of modules, recognizing the important role that stakeholders potentially play in an election – in this case, donors or electoral assistance providers.

The module explores electoral assistance from a number of perspectives ranging from policy level (the importance and role of elections, an overview of electoral support) to the practicalities (the electoral cycle, project identification and formulation).  A course developer/facilitation team should ideally adapt the material to suit the particular needs of the course participants.  A few scenarios for the usage of the module material are:

  1. A course for desk officers of aid agencies and foreign ministries, to deepen their knowledge of how electoral support works best, and how it fits within the broader remit of democracy support;   
  2. A workshop for electoral officials responsible for liaison and coordination  in order to prepare a strategy and the internal mechanisms for handling the support;
  3. A workshop for policy level staff members of aid agencies and ministries of particular countries who are reassessing or redesigning their democracy aid guidelines;
  4. As a dialogue tool prior to an electoral process between potential donors and electoral/government officials, to clarify views, concerns, and mechanisms in advance.

In each of the example cases listed above, the course developer/facilitation team will have a responsibility to pick and choose carefully from this module, and from other modules (in particular the Introduction module, the Observation Module, and any of the architecture, stakeholder or operational modules of particular concern in the context), as well as adding material (such as specific project documents from previous elections in the same country, or project templates and guidelines from the particular agency).

The most substantive section of the module is a step by step run through of the electoral cycle, in each step including an assessment of the particular challenges associated with that stage. This section, rich with PowerPoint presentations, can be adapted fairly simply to suit a general audience with an interest in learning more about electoral processes and electoral administration.

At least one of the two main texts of the module should be acquired for participants in advance of running the course and incorporated into the course accordingly, namely the EU Methodological Guide on Electoral Assistance, and the UNDP Election Assistance Implementation Guidelines (available from the respective organizations or downloadable from the Internet).

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