August 9, 2009
The BRIDGE Partnership and Structure
August 17, 2009

1.1 Explaining BRIDGE

BRIDGE stands for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections, a modular professional development program with a particular focus on electoral processes. BRIDGE represents a unique initiative where five leading organisations in the democracy and governance field have jointly committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available, designed to be used as a tool within a broader, capacity development framework.

The BRIDGE partners are:

Australian Electoral Commission – founding and hosting partner

International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) &- founding partner

United Nations Election Assistance Division (UNEAD) – founding partner

International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The BRIDGE Partner commitment reflects a wider common purpose, namely to enhance the sustainability and credibility of electoral processes through the encouragement of capable and professional democracy practitioners. Inherent in this are a set of key underpinning values. The BRIDGE partners value and seek to model the following:

  • local ownership and empowerment
  • sustainability
  • cooperation
  • participation
  • inclusiveness
  • transparency
  • commitment to ethical behaviour
  • flexibility
  • non-prescriptive approaches
  • rigorous and comprehensive content
  • commitment to democracy

The objectives of BRIDGE as it is currently structured are:

  • to enhance the skills and confidence of stakeholders in the electoral process
  • to increase the awareness of tools and resources available/necessary to build and maintain a sustainable electoral culture
  • to develop a support network for stakeholders in electoral processes and encourage a culture of sharing information and experiences
  • to promote internationally accepted principles of democracy and good electoral practice.

The BRIDGE Curriculum

The BRIDGE curriculum is comprehensive, representing the most ambitious attempt to cover the spectrum of electoral processes and their effective administration ever undertaken. Written by a large international team of experienced democracy professionals associated with the partner organisations, the BRIDGE curriculum includes major sections on stakeholders in the electoral process, coverage of cross cutting issues (such as gender, integrity and access), and in-depth exploration of complex issues relating to institutional culture, credibility and ethics.

The BRIDGE curriculum concentrates on the principles underlying all properly run elections, while drawing examples of different practical approaches from many different countries.  It does not seek to prescribe any one model for implementing those principles, but rather encourages participants to learn from the diverse examples presented. In some of the modules the aim is to develop skills in areas that are important in an electoral administrator’s day-to-day work, with an emphasis on understanding the relationships between tasks in order to meet tight deadlines effectively. In other modules exploring structural, ethical or social issues is the main focus.

Each module includes examples of activities, literature, case studies, election materials, websites, and audio-visual aids as workshop resources. It provides access to and draws from resources such as the IDEA handbooks, EC/UNDP manuals and the ACE Website. It also offers access to networks including regional and global electoral networks and the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network.

The current version of BRIDGE is Version 2, launched in March 2008, consists of the following modules:

The BRIDGE curriculum’s 24 modules (Political Financing was added in 2009) include two foundation modules. These are Introduction to Electoral Administration and Strategic and Financial Planning, which respectively emphasise the ethical and planning dimensions that underpin a professional approach to electoral administration. The other 21 modules are divided into three thematic groups.

Electoral Architecture contains the modules that provide the structure on which any electoral process rests, such as Electoral Systems, Electoral Management Design, and Legal Framework. These modules have a strong academic underpinning, and are best run with ‘experts’ in the respective subjects as part of a facilitation team. They are appropriate in particular to designers and policy makers in an electoral reform or institutional planning phase. However, they also offer an excellent opportunity for the professional development of electoral administrators and other stakeholders in the process.

Electoral Stakeholders focuses on groups such as political parties, observer groups, advocacy groups, the media, voters and the international community and the important role each plays in a robust and credible electoral environment.

Modules such as Access to Electoral Processes, Electoral Contestants or Civic Education are designed to serve a dual function; both empowering key stakeholders to understand, engage in and improve electoral processes, and promoting understanding among EMBs of stakeholder needs. They also aim to provide the tools and skills to meet those needs. In addition, a workshop with a mixed stakeholder/electoral administrator composition of participants can be designed to serve as a forum for constructive dialogue between the different groups. Unique networking opportunities are also created when stakeholders from different regions are invited to a workshop (for example, women’s advocacy groups from different countries attending a Gender and Elections workshop).

The Electoral Operations thematic group illustrates a cyclical, rather than ‘event driven’, approach to the running of elections, reflected in modules ranging from Voter Registration and Pre-Election Activities, through Electoral Security, Polling, Counting and Results, to Post-Election Activities. These modules are particularly effective as professional development tools for mid-management electoral administrators at the national and sub-national levels. However, they may also be conducted for other stakeholder groups to foster a better understanding of electoral operations.

Refer to: 8.2 Annex 2: Version 1 Curriculum Framework to see the framework for Version 1 of BRIDGE.

Refer to: Annex 3: BRIDGE Modules at a Glance for more detailed summaries of the 24 modules.

BRIDGE Methodology

The BRIDGE methodology combines participatory adult education techniques with a distinctive values based approach. Rather than relying heavily on traditional lecturing, BRIDGE is focused on practical issues and is activity-based, with each module offering a range of activities designed to convey clearly identified Key Understandings, and to achieve specified Learning Outcomes. It reflects the insight that people learn best when they take responsibility for their own learning, and are faced with material that is relevant to them and presented in a memorable and innovative way.

The BRIDGE methodology is based on the following principles. BRIDGE:

  • acknowledges the importance of building local electoral administrative capacity in participant countries
  • acknowledges and values diversity of experiences and operational environments
  • encourages dialogue, sharing of knowledge and participation to identify excellence in electoral administration
  • is supportive, rather than prescriptive, in building individual participants’ skills and expertise
  • encourages participants to be responsible for their own learning
  • encourages local ownership of the curriculum so that client groups eventually gain the ability to conduct BRIDGE for themselves

The BRIDGE package is flexible and adaptable. Currently, BRIDGE programs are developed to match specific needs and requests internal or external to the partner organisations. This means that BRIDGE programs when run are extremely diverse, depending on the client, circumstances, timing in the electoral cycle, funding, participant needs, as well as regional and cultural contexts (see examples at BRIDGE workshops are run at the national level, for participants from across a region, or for international participants.

Workshops using BRIDGE curriculum materials have been conducted materials have been conducted in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, East Timor, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Guam, Indonesia, Jordan, Liberia, Mozambique, Nepal, the Palestine Territories, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sweden, USA, Vanuatu, And Yemen (for a comprehensive list see the BRIDGE website). In addition to the BRIDGE Partner organisations, implementing partners have include the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, the University of South Pacific, as well as the electoral authorities in a wide range of countries. Nationals of over 60 countries have taken part in BRIDGE workshops.

A classic BRIDGE workshop is based on one or more of the BRIDGE modules: often shortening or extending modules, combining various modules or including new materials and activities using BRIDGE methodology.

Another model is to run BRIDGE in combination with operational or other sorts of training, by mixing BRIDGE methodology and modules, operational training and/or elements of other workshops or programs in a way that matches the operational imperative of the client organisation.

Conferences where there are representatives from a number of different EMBs (or organisations involved in elections) are excellent places where BRIDGE methodology can be showcased. The more lecture and presentation oriented methods can be combined with activity based sessions to share large amounts of information in a participative manner.

BRIDGE can be used as a problem-solving mechanism or dialogue tool to bring disparate parts of an organisation, staff from different organisations, or different stakeholders together so they better understand their roles in the election process. The key is to create an atmosphere of trust and openness.

BRIDGE can be conducted by a BRIDGE partner organisation or other organisations or even individuals as long as they comply with the rules of BRIDGE (see 1.3 Focus On: Rules of BRIDGE). For best impact, BRIDGE should be systematically conducted in conjunction with any existing electoral assistance or professional development programs as part of an integrated package.

A carefully constructed customisation process is the key to a successful program. The first and most important requirement is a committed and competent team of BRIDGE facilitators, equipped with the time, resources, and appropriate information about the participants’ needs and expectations.

BRIDGE Program & Components

A BRIDGE program is a customised series of workshops that help to achieve a specific set of program objectives.

There are three main types of workshops included in most extensive BRIDGE programs:


Description: customised workshop based on one or more of the 23 modules which cover all aspects of the electoral process, tailored to the needs of the participants.

Duration: 1-5 days

Number of participants: 20-25 people

Typical participants: Dependent on module, but EMB staff of all levels, other electoral stakeholders (such as contestants, media, donors).

Training  Components


Description: Workshop designed for implementers of BRIDGE modules and TtF workshops.

Duration: 2 – 3 days

Number of participants: 20 people

Typical participants: Project managers, administrative support to the training unit of an EMB, Donor Agencies and Implementing Partners.


Description: Workshop to train facilitators in BRIDGE methodology, facilitation techniques, and customisation. 

Duration: 10 days

Number of participants: maximum 20

Typical participants: Training unit of an EMB, key EMB staff with training skills, provincial EMB staff with training skills, teacher trainers, civil service, international and national electoral assistance providers, electoral training consultants, personnel from the BRIDGE partner organisations.


Refer to: 8.1 Annex 1: BRIDGE Training Components for more detailed descriptions. Further information can also be found in 5. BRIDGE Facilitators and 6.1 Preparing for a BRIDGE Module Workshop



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