Mauro De Lorenzo explains the refugee voting process in the first post-conflict Bosnian elections in 1996. He discusses the organizational structures involved in carrying out the mandate for refugee voting, including the steering group assigned specifically to the task. He explains that Sarajevo decision makers were concerned about the integrity and peacefulness of the vote inside Bosnia and not with refugee voters. De Lorenzo discusses the legal framework of voter registration and the technical difficulties he encountered in creating a master list of registrants per the electoral law. He further describes the efforts in reaching hundreds of thousands of people across more than 70 countries or jurisdictions, printing enough ballots for those voters, distributing them, and getting them back on time. He outlines his group’s decision-making procedures, employing DHL to help establish a mail system, and running the steering group like a small start-up company, skirting formal processes to accomplish their goals. He also differentiates between refugee and diaspora voting. Finally, De Lorenzo discusses the complexity of the ballot and its implications for other countries considering refugee voting, especially since refugee voting can change election outcomes.
At the time of this interview, De Lorenzo was a Senior Research Scholar and Deputy Director of the Urbanization Project at New York University's Stern School of Business. Before joining NYU, De Lorenzo was Vice President at the John Templeton Foundation and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. From 2007-2010, De Lorenzo served in a pro bono capacity as the deputy to Senator Bill Frist on the board of directors of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Previously, De Lorenzo served as Assistant to the Coordinator of the Refugee Elections Steering Group, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He was an intern at the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) at the time, which became the Secretariat for the refugee elections component of the first Bosnian elections. As his presence around the office coincided with the impending crisis to implement the refugee-voting mandate, De Lorenzo became a member of the steering group assigned to make refugee voting happen. In 1997, he served as a refugee elections specialist with the Refugee Policy Group in Monrovia, Liberia. De Lorenzo studies private sector-based approaches to political development in post-conflict countries, focusing on reforms that have made some developing countries attractive to foreign and domestic investment. He also researches Chinese investment and political influence outside the Pacific region, particularly in Africa; the design of policies that promote democratic accountability in aid-receiving countries; and refugee and humanitarian policies.