November 13, 2009


In December 1999, a group of prominent electoral experts from around the world met in Canberra, Australia to discuss the potential structure and content if a short capacity-building program for electoral administrators. They were asked to reflect on everything which, with the benefit of hindsight, they wished they had known when starting work on their first election. The knowledge they identified formed the basis for what has become the BRIDGE curriculum.BRIDGE stands for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections. It is 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 five BRIDGE partners are the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), International IDEA, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division […]
August 17, 2009

Implementing BRIDGE Programs – A Quick Look

A BRIDGE program should always be seen as a long-term capacity development effort, not a short-term quick-fix.  It should involve: identification of needs and broad objectives and careful consideration of whether BRIDGE is an appropriate tool for addressing these formulating and adopting a grass-roots strategy and plan for training, in consultation with the key stakeholders ensuring that the plan is driven by a local agenda, with stakeholders defining their own needs identification of program objectives through consultation and contextualisation thoughtful and appropriate program design consideration of an evaluation framework comprehensive logistic planning well-organised execution of the program well-planned and useful evaluation clear reporting and documentation strategies for sustaining the program and its impacts, such as the creation of an internalised professional development strategy so local trainers can sustain BRIDGE and passing ownership to the client organisation at the completion of the program. This manual explains each of these steps in detail. Sample timeline A timeline of events in the implementation process might look like this: Year 1 January – Needs assessment done by client organisation, broad needs identified relating to better electoral administration.  Broad objectives to address these needs identified.  Evaluation framework structured to measure the impact of the objectives. March – BRIDGE identified as possible tool in wider program to address client organisation needs. April – Scoping mission conducted by BRIDGE expert to evaluate appropriateness of BRIDGE. Showcase conducted. BRIDGE is deemed appropriate. June – Introduction to Electoral Administration module workshop run for key stakeholders and decision-makers in client organisation to familiarise them with BRIDGE. August – Program team in place and beginning to design program, identify objectives and audiences.  Customisation process begins. October – Introduction to Electoral Administration and Strategic and Financial Planning module workshops (or other relevant to program objectives) run for a wider audience within the client organisation, including potential local facilitators. December – Potential local facilitators identified and partially accredited at a Train the Facilitator workshop. Implementation Workshop held. Year 2 January – March – First set of customised module workshops addressing program objectives rolled out to client organisation staff and selected external stakeholders, facilitated by an Accrediting Facilitator and local facilitators who have just completed the TtF. April – May – Evaluation and reporting of module workshops just completed.  Adjustments made to program design if necessary. June-August – Second set of customised module workshops rolled out with as much or as little support from external, more experienced BRIDGE facilitators as needed.  Local facilitators may feel ready to run these modules independently by this stage, or may ask for minimal assistance from an external, more experienced BRIDGE facilitator. September – Further evaluation and reporting, including another stage of evaluation of the first set of workshops. October onwards – Local facilitators and program team develop their professional development plan. Example of East Timor In East Timor a year-long electoral capacity building program was developed in collaboration with the EMB, other key actors in the broader electoral field including UNDP; the Australian donor organisation – AusAID – and the delivery organisation – the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The program was devised to take into account the electoral cycle; the needs of the staff of the East Timorese EMB; the timing and effect of other electoral programs; the availability of staff; and the legislative and political climate in a post-conflict country. Several BRIDGE workshops were delivered to the same group of staff – a mixture of operational and head office staff – over the course of a year. A work placement program had also been planned for two members of the East Timor EMB staff to visit the Northern Territory in Australia on three occasions over a period of several months to shadow preparations and delivery of a local government election. Dates, legislative change, availability of staff, etc in both countries and an offer of shared funding from UNDP led to a reworking of the program over the period of a couple of weeks to take up the obvious benefits to all being offered by the previously unforseen opportunity. East Timor was planning municipal elections for the first time and the Northern Territory was about to hold municipal and shire elections, also for the first time. The obvious parallels of experience highlighted multiple opportunities too good to miss. Funds previously identified for a further BRIDGE workshop and the work placement program previously described, were joined with travel funding provided by UNDP. The subsequent hastily reworked program resulted in sixteen East Timorese EMB staff visiting Darwin for a couple of weeks. Two EMB representatives were also able to accompany an AEC mobile polling team to remote communities and islands to conduct early voting. Many similar challenges were being faced by the two EMBs. The program incorporated a week of election operational training and observation followed by a four day Voter Information BRIDGE workshop. The flexibility on all parts and commitment to meet changing needs rather than continue with an existing program, resulted in an extremely valuable experience and development opportunity for a much larger group of East Timorese EMB staff and a further relationship building opportunity, with implications for further opportunities in the future, with an EMB in another country facing some of the same […]
August 17, 2009

BRIDGE as a Professional Development Tool

An election is the largest and most complex logistical operation that a country ever undertakes in peacetime. This is often not well understood, and indeed, the better an election is run, the simpler it looks. Committed, ethical, professional and confident people are the key to increasing the prospects of running a good election, in both emerging and more established democracies. Electoral assistance providers recognise that the building of a strong and stable electoral culture in-country is more important than providing ad hoc electoral assistance from outside. Two of the largest, UNDP and European Commission, have specifically recommended incorporating an electoral cycle approach and focussing on capacity development in their electoral assistance programming (see Electoral Assistance Manuals from the respective organisations). UNDP defines capacity development as the process through which individuals, organisations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time. Ideally, BRIDGE should be one component of an integrated package of broader electoral assistance or of a wider and longer-term capacity development strategy that incorporates other interventions such as technical assistance, operational training, and mentoring. BRIDGE is not a ‘fix-all’, a ‘stop gap’, and a ‘stand-alone’ product that can meet all needs. BRIDGE can neither deliver a total electoral assistance package nor take complete responsibility for capacity development. Designing and implementing BRIDGE programs as multi-partner initiatives goes a long way to maximising BRIDGE’s institutional development potential. BRIDGE partner organisations are well placed for such cooperation. BRIDGE as a professional development tool primarily affects participants at the individual level. The BRIDGE activity based workshops use an activity based approach that maximises retention of knowledge and skills learned in a workshop. In addition, the workshops are designed to promote or reinforce professional confidence, ethics, understanding of principles of best electoral practice, and access to networks of peers. BRIDGE has the potential to trigger change on the organisational level: broader understanding of the organisation, morale, and cohesion within the organisation. Workshops encourage participants to reflect on their organisation, providing comparative examples and alternative approaches, generating blueprints or support for organisational reform. BRIDGE has the potential to impact change also on the environmental level. As a dialogue tool, the content, methodology, and non-threatening environment can contribute to a shared understanding of the challenges ahead and improved relationships between disparate stakeholders. By practicing skills such as analysis of alternative approaches, advocacy, and legislation drafting participants are well placed to affect change on a broader level. BRIDGE programs have resulted in networks of professionals within institutions, regionally and internationally that have provided peer support and served as triggers for reform long after the end of the formal […]
August 17, 2009

The BRIDGE Partnership and Structure

The BRIDGE partners are all committed to the following values: The spirit of collaboration and cooperation, and establishing a true partnership. Regular and honest communication between all Partners, and between the BRIDGE Office and all Partners. Maintaining a strong relationship between Partners, including teamwork and collaborative communication in the field. A commitment to supporting BRIDGE in a way that is most appropriate to each Partner, which may include staff time, financial resources or providing expertise. Sharing of resources, expertise, staff, information. Modelling of good BRIDGE implementation practices where Partners are implementing BRIDGE themselves Mainstreaming of BRIDGE workshops and methodology within Partner organisations Governance of BRIDGE As outlined in the previous section, BRIDGE is administered from the BRIDGE Office, which is based in AEC National Office, Australia and funded and hosted by the AEC. BRIDGE Communication and Decision Making The BRIDGE Office is the designated hub for information from Partners, and undertakes to keep Partners fully informed of BRIDGE activities at all levels. Communication takes the form of regular Partner newsletters, the BRIDGE website and regular email correspondence between the BRIDGE Office and the designated focal points at each Partner organisation. A Partner Committee Meeting, which brings together the BRIDGE Office and the focal points of each Partner organisation, takes place annually. This meeting provides an opportunity for Partners to discuss the challenges, directions and strategies of BRIDGE. It is also used as a forum to make high-level decisions that cannot be made at the BRIDGE Office level alone. Where possible, the Partner Committee Meeting also invites key BRIDGE practitioners to attend, and can be used as an opportunity for practitioners to network and provide feedback to the […]
August 17, 2009

Explaining BRIDGE

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 www.bridge-project.org). 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: MODULE WORKSHOPS 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 IMPLEMENTATION WORKSHOP 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. TRAIN THE FACILITATOR WORKSHOP 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 […]
August 22, 2008

Running a BRIDGE Course

So you want to run a BRIDGE course? BRIDGE has grown into the de facto elections training curriculum around the world today. Short for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections, the course has developed out of initiatives by the Australian Electoral Commission, International IDEA and the UN's Electoral Assistance Division. A testimony to its growth is the addition in recent years of IFES and UNDP as partners in the BRIDGE Project.


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