The session began with the facilitator, Alistair Legge, asking participants to first find a partner with different shoes. At least one of the pair is to have lace-up shoes. The instructions to the pair are: first, completely remove the shoelaces from the shoes, and second, write a procedure that instructs a person on how to put the lace-up shoes on in readiness to walk. Once the procedures are written they are swapped with another pair, who follow the procedure they have been given. They must follow the instructions absolutely literally. Hilarity erupts! The most effective part of the learning here usually ensues when people realise what has been left out. Often a procedure will make no mention of actually putting the shoe on the foot!
After a debrief of this introductory exercise, a serious conversation takes place about the importance of logical steps and precise detail in procedure writing – especially as they apply in an electoral context. The main principles of procedure writing are then canvassed. A procedure has to be straightforward; it has to be intelligible; it has to be clear; it has to include all necessary electoral components.
Participants are then asked in table groups to write an electoral procedure which covers the steps electoral officers must take from the time an elector enters the polling place until they leave again. These procedures, once completed, are also swapped and critiqued and checked against the procedure writing principles. It is highly likely that again some hilarity will occur. The result of this session is very strong and positive learning about the importance of every single detail in procedure writing. The order in which instructions occur is also demonstrated to be of significance if electoral procedures are to be faultless.
In Dili, East Timor from 16 to 19 June 2008, Eduardo Casimiro de Deus (STAE), Augusto Pereira (AusAID), Alistair Legge (AEC) and Cate Thompson (AEC) facilitated a four day Electoral Architecture: Legal Framework BRIDGE course. This course was Augusto’s first opportunity to facilitate BRIDGE following his recent accreditation at the Train the Facilitator course in May 08 in Melbourne, Australia. He was a real star. His fellow facilitators enjoyed working with him and having the pleasure of presenting him with a certificate to verify the next stage of his accreditation. Augusto himself commented that he had thought the module would be dry and hard but as it turned out he found it to be funny, easy and deliverable. He said memories of this excellent week will remain with him. Congratulations Augusto!
Positive comments were made by participants in the course about the amount of time allowed to complete the activities and deeply discuss the concepts. Examples of comments include: What I learned today: ‘opened my mind more’, ‘was very useful to enhance my capacity’ and ‘thanks for the knowledge that you share with me’.
It was most rewarding to notice how much participant’s engagement and knowledge had accelerated since the last BRIDGE course in Dili, East Timor in April/May 2008. The participants displayed increased confidence and demonstrated real growth in their skills.