Electoral Observation synopsis
October 18, 2011
Electoral Technology synopsis
October 18, 2011

Security has until recently been largely overlooked within many activities in the private and public sectors. Today it is seen as critical and an integral element within many organisations and activities, from inception of concepts, to procurement, establishment, training and deployment of personnel and assets. The earlier misconceptions and lackadaisical attitudes have taken time and a change in organisational mindset in many spheres to evolve into the current environment. Personnel undertaking their role in elections can no longer feel immune to threat based upon a notion of common good and honourable undertaking. As experienced by organisations like the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, humanitarian activities is no deterrent to targeting by special interest groups to undermine or seek media coverage. The increased risk to staff occurs irrespective of their nationality, gender, religion or role. The high profile role of electoral staff can expose them to direct threats by persons or groups seeking to target governments, countries or organizations. Such targeting may be due to varied factors which can have major consequences for the individual, voters, political groups and communities. Threat or hostile action against electoral personnel can serve to undermine the goals of democratic elections, and affect election outcomes and the political composition of legislature. The failure of staff to recognise their profile and exposure to threat can have serious repercussions both personally and to the organization.

In this module we will discuss security as an integral element in the delivery of electoral activities, in exploring the role of security in planning and staff activities. Participants will identify relevant stakeholders involved in security planning and will examine the varied operational environments in which electoral activities are undertaken.  The subjects covered in this module include:

  • Security as integral in elections delivery: What role does security play within the elections process? Who are the varied stakeholders in the electoral process responsible for security? What are the types of operational environments in which our staff will operate? What capacity exists to maintain an environment in which elections to be undertaken?
  • Security of self is paramount: How important is prior preparation when staff are deploying to varied operational locations? What are the minimum safety and security considerations which staff should utilise in risk areas? How do we recognise threats that can affect us in our operational role?
  • All electoral activities require assessment of threat and risk: What is threat and risk? How can staff determine vulnerabilities and interpret security assessments in theatre? What is Security Risk Management in an electoral environment? How do we mitigate risk to facilitate our activities? 
  • Planning with Military and Police involvement: How do we interact with military or police elements in operational areas? How do we liaise and function in harmony with host government security establishments? What activities exist to enhance information exchange and formulate positive liaison?
  • The role of security in operational activities: What is coordination? How can the activities of special interest groups, government apparatus and stakeholders be made effective in an operational role? What role does communication play in electoral activities? How can staff be prepared for communications related issues in the field?  What issues should be considered in logistics and transport matters in electoral operations? 
  • An electoral activity requires information security:  How does information security pose a threat to electoral roles? How important is data security in operations support? How do we evaluate and audit information recording accurately? What should be undertaken in a post election environment to maintain security of operations?

In addition to understanding, interpreting threat and risk requires active participation. This module offers a number of hands-on activities designed for participants to acquire relevant skills such as:

  • Understanding security risk assessment terminology to interpret assessments accurately;
  • Producing threat assessments and incorporating mitigation to enable operations to occur;
  • Develop understanding of limitations and procedures to deal with military and police liaison;
  • Understand information security impacting documentation and computer software;

A key understanding underlying this module is recognition of the threats and risks which can impact staff and electoral operations. This module provides participants with the theoretical foundation and many of the practical skills needed to undertake their role safely.

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