Inclusion and Introduction to Elections in Sri Lanka

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), together with the Australian Election Commission (AEC) and the Election Commission of Sri Lanka (ECSL) conducted an online Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training on Introduction to Elections and Inclusion for 18 senior officials and newly recruited staff of the ECSL. This included six women and one person with a disability.

The training was conducted over a four-day period: August 2, 3, 5 and 6, 2021 for three hours each day on Zoom. The training used interactive training methods such Mentimemter, Zoom whiteboard, Zoom polls and breakout rooms for group activities in order to actively engage participants. The sessions were conducted in English and Sinhala with simultaneous interpretation in Tamil.

BRIDGE accredited facilitators Ross Attrill (AEC), Meredith Applegate (IFES) and Samantha Jayasinghe (ECSL) conducted the training with facilitation support from Lasanthi Daskon (IFES) and Sreen Yapa Boralessa (ECSL). The facilitators were able to actively engage with the participants and draw out interesting observations on each topic.

The training covered the following main areas: an introduction to the electoral cycle and electoral stakeholders, guiding principles of election management, inclusion, quotas and hate speech and disinformation in elections. Participants engaged in the sessions with interest throughout the training and appreciated the nuanced approach of the workshop. Participants actively engaged in the discussion and particularly highlighted the inclusion issues they face in their daily work and brainstormed possible solutions that can be adopted.

On the final day participants were able to reflect on some of the favorite sessions of the training and offered insights on how this would help them administer future elections and improve as an election management body. This activity was made possible through the support of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Participant feedback:

“The training is interactive and a lot of fun. The discussions were also fruitful and the use of case studies to explain quotas and how it worked in other countries was extremely beneficial for me.”

Miss. P.A.S. Kumarini Dasanthi, Assistant Commissioner of Elections

“I particularly enjoyed the session on hate speech and disinformation. We have heard of instances of hate speech but through this session, I was able to understand the definitions and clarify the differences between hate speech, disinformation and misinformation.”

Mr. W.H.R. Wijeya Kumara, Deputy Commissioner of Elections

“I think this type of trainings are very beneficial for new recruits like me who are new to elections and electoral processes. I found the sessions very useful and I also loved the sessions on gender, disability and intersectionality. It helped us think how we should conduct our work more around these lines during elections”

Mr.J.M.T.K. Jayawardhena, Development Officer

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