Setting BRIDGE program objectives
August 17, 2009
BRIDGE in Electoral Assistance and Capacity Building Programs
August 17, 2009

Understanding the election cycle and the operational capability of an EMB is critical to creating a strong program. In giving consideration to timing, the program organiser could look at using BRIDGE as a pre-election planning tool, or using post-election evaluation as part of the planning component.  Program developers should identify the most appropriate time to conduct module workshops that align with organisational priorities (and that don’t interfere with operational imperatives). Some modules would be most appropriately scheduled just prior to the relevant election cycle event (e.g. the Voter Registration module some time prior to the voter registration phase), others would be appropriate at all or any stages of the process.

Immediately after an electoral event there is the likelihood of the withdrawal of donor funds and international technical assistance and attention from some countries. This is often coupled with staff reduction and the loss of expertise. However, this allows for a focus on planning and working with core or permanent staff.

In roughly chronological order, this table provides guidelines on recommended minimum timeframe for running different BRIDGE modules. For example, Legal Framework should be run a minimum of 3-6 months before legislative reform, if not earlier.

Module Timing
Access to Electoral Processes At all stages of the process
Gender and Elections At all stages of the process
Civic Education At all stages of the process
Electoral Assistance 2-3 years before E-Day
Legal Framework 3-6 months before legislative reform
Electoral Systems 3-6 months before ES reform
Boundary Delimitation 3-6 months before BD process
Electoral Management Design 3-6 months before EMB reform
Electoral Dispute Resolution 1 month before party registration
Electoral Technology 1 month before needs assessment or launching a tender
Voter Registration 6-12 months before registration
Pre-election Activities 12 months before E-day
Electoral Security 6-12 months before E-Day
Polling, Counting and Results 6 months before E-Day
Electoral Training 6 months before E-Day
Media and Elections 1 month before registration or at least 3 months before E-Day
Electoral Contestants 12-24 months before an E-Day
External Voting 12 months before E-Day
Electoral Dispute Resolution 1 month before party registration
Electoral Observation 1 month before registration

 

This electoral cycle approach is a theoretical model to support planning and encourage long term thinking rather than any kind of reflection of reality. In the ‘real world’ where BRIDGE programs are being implemented, changes to the existing political culture, power structures or legal framework will likely be the rule rather than the exception.  For example, new appointments to the EMB can have an impact on relationships with government and stakeholders and on the culture of transparency and on their professional needs. The reduction of institutional memory of electoral processes may affect the speed of implementation of the electoral calendar. Legislative amendments can have a huge impact on the timeline and rules of the game. New census data and new boundary delimitation can create tensions between parties, and a push to register previously unregistered voters may tilt delicate power balances.

Ben
Ben

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