polling supplies

Kayode Idowu

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X
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Gabriel Kuris and Rahmane Idrissa
Name
Kayode Idowu
Interviewee's Position
Chief Press Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
Attahiru Jega
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, Kayode Idowu describes his role as Chief Press Secretary for Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He explains the transparency and accountability that Jega has brought to INEC through changes such as maintaining open, honest communication with the media and taking responsibility for problems as they arise. For instance, Idowu recounts the delay in the April 2ndelections, explaining that INEC chose to postpone elections rather than use non-official result sheets that were not secure.  He also comments on how the rise of social media has changed media relations, making both INEC and the conventional media more accountable. Idowu discusses his experiences handling the public relations surrounding election violence, distinguishing the security aspects from the electoral aspects of the issue. In response to election violence, INEC initiated cooperative efforts with security agencies; Idowu describes this process as well as INEC’s communication and cooperation with other groups, including Parties, civil society, and the State Electoral Committees. Throughout the interview, Idowu explains how his background in print media helps him understand and relate to the media with whom he works. 

Profile

At the time of this interview Kayode Idowu was serving as the Chief Press Secretary to Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the commission. Jega recruited Idowu in July of 2010 from his post as deputy editor of The Nation. Idowu previously served as editor of the SaturdayPunch, deputy editor of the SaturdayThis Day, and chief sub editor ofThe Guardian. He is also a former Saturday editor of the now-defunct The Comet.

 

James Wallace

Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
James Wallace
Interviewee's Position
Director of Training and Procedures
Interviewee's Organization
National Elections Commission
Language
English
Place (Building/Street)
NEC
Town/City
Monrovia
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, James Wallace describes his experiences as the Director of Training of the National Elections Commission of Liberia during the country’s 2005 elections. Wallace discusses the preparations undertaken by the commission prior to the elections, including boundary delimitation, civic education and voter registration. As Liberia was just emerging from a civil conflict, there were a number of obstacles that made these processes particularly difficult. And because of this extraordinary situation, extraordinary methods had to be employed, including, for registration purposes, the use of language and accents as a means for officials to identify individuals as being Liberians, as well the use of a vouching system in which prominent Liberians could vouch for the citizenship of fellow community members. Wallace emphasizes the importance of community involvement throughout voting processes, through consultations with local leaders during boundary delimitation and in educating the electorate. He goes on to describe the logistics behind polling centers and the breakdown of responsibilities of workers as well as the mechanisms, both technological and logistical, employed to prevent fraud. Wallace concludes by emphasizing the importance of teamwork, openness to criticism and innovation to success for anyone with similar responsibilities.

Profile

At the time of this interview, James Wallace was the Director of Training of the National Elections Commission of Liberia.

Augustina Akumanyi

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E
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
6
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Augustina Akumanyi
Interviewee's Position
Deputy Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
National Commission for Civic Education, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Augustina Akumanyi explains her role at Ghana's National Commission of Civic Education and how the commission was established, including its relationship with the government and its efforts to become and remain an independent body. She talks about how the commission operates, including staff appointments, operations, funding, budget authority, recruitment methods, and training and evaluation methods. She offers details of the responsibilities of the commission in voter and civic education activities and how these are shared with civil society and the media. This education can come in the way of messages that can either be motivational or instructional. Akumanyi gives her opinion on the best way to convey these messages, and which messages are more effective than others. Finally, Akumanyi shares her perspectives on the relationship between donors and host countries and ways to improve working relations.
Profile
At the time of this interview, Augustina Akumanyi was deputy chairman responsible for programs at the National Commission for Civic Education in Accra, Ghana. She had extensive experience in the Ghana Civil Service as well as more than 20 years working in the U.K. as a principle committee administrator in five London boroughs. She returned to Ghana in 2003 to work at the commission. She graduated from the University of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
Full Audio File Size
45 MB
Full Audio Title
Augustina Akumanyi - Full Interview

Jorge Guzman

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Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Jorge Guzman
Interviewee's Position
Program Manager
Interviewee's Organization
Program Management Unit, UNDP in Sierra Leone
Language
English
Place (Building/Street)
United Nations Program Management Unit
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

 Jorge Guzman explains the role of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Program Management Unit (PMU) in the 2007 and 2008 elections in Sierra Leone.  He discusses how to coordinate efforts and negotiate competing requests from donors and national institutions while still operating within the constraints imposed by the UNDP framework.  He describes how tension was minimized through negotiations and steering committee meetings with the diplomatic corps and the government.  He explains how the final election date was kept stable, as constantly changing elements like procurement and recruitment procedures affected timelines.  He describes how the National Election Committee was restructured, with positions being chosen based on merit through a detailed selection process.  He also explains how the transparency and efficiency of the NEC was established through the formation of explicit procedures and guidelines and the publishing of the results of election procedures like registration, the nomination of candidates, and the counting and tallying of votes. He finishes with a discussion of training a diverse group of people, emphasizing the importance of considering context and fostering unity to successfully implement democracy on a day-to-day basis.   

 

Profile

At the time of this interview, Jorge Guzman was the program manager of the Program Management Unit for the UNDP in Sierra Leone. He has extensive experience in public relations and administration issues related to elections, having worked with the UN in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Nigeria, and Pakistan. He has been a BRIDGE facilitator, and part of the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. 

Full Audio File Size
84 MB
Full Audio Title
Jorge Guzman Interview

Alex Paila

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A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Alex Paila
Interviewee's Position
Voter Education and Public Relations Officer
Interviewee's Organization
National Electoral Commission, Sierra Leone
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Sierra Leone
Town/City
Bo District
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Alex Paila discusses various aspects of national and local election management in Sierra Leone during 2007 and 2008. These areas include the recruitment, training, evaluation and monitoring of election staff; election security; voter registration, audits and curtailment of voter fraud; information dissemination, media relations and enfranchisement of marginalized groups; and financial and logistical constraints and concerns.  He also emphasizes cooperation with community-based civilian organizations as key for information dissemination and higher voter turnouts, and he stresses relations with international organizations to improve workers’ training and monitoring, and secure funding. Paila also speaks about the issues of districting and determining electoral timetables.  Finally, he reflects upon some of the challenges faced by Sierra Leone during the elections in 2007 and 2008, as well as possible hurdles that the country may face in the future.    

Profile

At the time of the interview, Alex Paila was the voter education and public relations officer at the National Electoral Commission in Sierra Leone. Prior to that, he worked as a journalist for various newspapers, including the Ceylon Times and the Spectator. He was also employed, first as a reporter and then as deputy news editor, at the Sierra Leone Broadcast Service. Paila holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. 

Full Audio File Size
84 MB
Full Audio Title
Alex Paila - Full Interview

Nyimbi Odero

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X
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Gabriel Kuris
Name
Nyimbi Odero
Interviewee's Position
Technical Consultant
Interviewee's Organization
INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission)
Language
English
Town/City
Abuja
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
In this interview, Nyimbi Odero explains the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission in providing a certified voters’ register for the 2011 elections in Nigeria.  He describes his role in designing and obtaining the necessary equipment to run the election through the mechanism of a reverse vickery auction designed to improve transparency.  He details the process by which the INEC redesigned the power system to run on extended lithium ferrous phosphate batteries to increase efficiency.  He explains how he led the INEC in taking advantage of existing open source software and altering it to fit the Nigerian context.  He elaborates on how this effort to be cost efficient was initially met with a backlash from companies that had traditionally profited from the elections.  Odero describes how his team installed a patching infrastructure to facilitate the process of installing software on a large number of computers that were used for the voter registration, and explains how culturally embedded meanings of the word ‘patch’ caused Nigerians to be skeptical of the new technology.  He discusses how severe time constraints forced the INEC to train people and improvise with equipment throughout the registration process rather than before it began.   Odero touches on the key role that Nigerian youth played throughout the process.  He explains how the INEC used social media to involve the Nigerian electorate, and details the widespread use of mobile phones to improve security and information sharing.  He concludes by emphasizing the potential of open source software to improve the transparency and efficiency of democratic elections across the African continent. 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Nyimbi Odero was a consultant for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria.  A native to Kenya, Odero has extensive experience as a software, Internet, and network entrepreneur with various startups in Africa.  Prior to joining INEC as an electoral assistant, he worked as the Office Lead for English-speaking West Africa at Google.  In that role, he created programs, initiatives and projects to increase the number of Internet users in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia.  He has experience engaging the government as well as the public and private sector regarding policies regulating the competitiveness and accessibility of the Internet.  Odero has a special interest in education, and he initiated the Google University Access Programme, which delivers bandwidth, wireless networks and inexpensive computing devices to university students and communities.  

Full Audio File Size
68 MB
Full Audio Title
Nyimbi Odero - Full Interview

Isabel Otero

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A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
7
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Isabel Otero
Interviewee's Position
Procedures and Training Adviser to the National Electoral Commission
Interviewee's Organization
UNDP Electoral Assistance Team in Sierra Leone
Language
English
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Isabel Otero discusses the efforts by the United Nations Development Programme Electoral Assistance Team to build electoral management capacity in Sierra Leone. She discusses the 2007 parliamentary and presidential elections and the 2008 local government election. She begins by discussing the development of procedures and worker training by the UNDP. Otero speaks about various strategies used to curtail voter fraud and fraud by officials in the elections through the monitoring of registration lists, ballot papers, identification methods and other means. She also discusses the relationship between the UNDP and the National Electoral Commission. Finally, she reflects upon challenges that the electoral commission may face in the future, and offers advice for building capacity in electoral management in other states with little experience regarding elections. 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Isabel Otero was employed at the United Nations Development Programme Electoral Assistance Team in Sierra Leone. At the UNDP, she served as procedures and training adviser for the National Electoral Commission in Sierra Leone, a position that she held since 2006. Prior to working in Sierra Leone, she served in Liberia as a training and capacity building adviser. She also previously served as a training officer in Afghanistan, and during both the national constituency assembly election and the presidential election in Timor-Leste. Prior to working on electoral issues at the U.N., Otero worked on gender-equity issues in Colombia with various non-governmental organizations. She holds a master’s degree in philosophy. 

Full Audio File Size
72 MB
Full Audio Title
Isabel Otero - Full Interview

Victoria Stewart-Jolley

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H
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
14
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Victoria Stewart-Jolley
Interviewee's Position
Legal Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
United Nations Development Programme Electoral Assistance Team, Sierra Leone
Language
English
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Victoria Stewart-Jolley discusses electoral management and electoral law and procedures in Sierra Leone in 2007 and 2008. She analyzes the significance of choice of electoral system, including simple plurality, proportional representation, and block representations, especially in post-conflict states; and she discusses the Constitution of Sierra Leone with regard to election law. Stewart-Jolley speaks about the process for legislating operational procedures, the various challenges faced by the National Electoral Commission in this regard, and the outcomes of these enactments. She considers the nature and functioning of the commission, and discusses the tradeoffs between independence, transparency and political concerns that an electoral management body faces. She reflects upon issues relating to resolving electoral disputes, and the repercussions of various strategies on confidence building in post-conflict countries. Stewart-Jolley also touches upon Sierra Leone’s efforts to enfranchise marginalized demographic groups, and to represent them in government. Finally, she reflects on the role that international organizations play in domestic electoral matters, and the balance that they must strike between offering advice and implementation.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Victoria Stewart-Jolley was a legal adviser for the United Nations Development Programme's Electoral Assistance Team in Sierra Leone, a position that she had held since March 2007. She worked during the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections as well as the 2008 local elections to create legal frameworks for electoral management. Prior to working in Sierra Leone, she was a lawyer for the Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan. Stewart-Jolley also worked in international criminal law in Timor-Leste, and in World Trade Organization law in Indonesia. She holds a law degree and has a background in international public law and constitutional law.

Full Audio File Size
61MB
Full Audio Title
Victoria Stewart-Jolley Interview

Kwesi Jonah

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E
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Kwesi Jonah
Interviewee's Position
Research Fellow
Interviewee's Organization
Institute for Democratic Governance
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Kwesi Jonah discusses electoral politics and administration in Ghana. He discusses the choice of electoral system in Ghana, and its relevance to the political climate and culture. He discusses more specifically electoral law and the role of the Election Commission of Ghana (EC) and the judiciary in ensuring fair elections in Ghana. He discusses measures to ensure independence of the EC, including budgetary independence, transparency, media relations, diversity and the role of political parties as advisory, but not decision-making, adjuncts to the EC. Jonah further reflects upon the elections administration in Ghana, speaking about voter registration, voter education, voter identification, monitoring, fraud-prevention and dispute resolution. He reflects upon the role of international donors, Ghanaian nongovernmental organizations and the media in the electoral process. Finally, he considers the challenges faced by Ghana, including election violence, rejected ballots due to insufficient voter education, geographic challenges, bureaucratic hurdles, the representation of minorities, voter fraud and the enforcement of electoral laws.
Profile

At the time of the interview, Kwesi Jonah, who holds a doctoral degree, was head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Ghana, Legon, and was also a research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance in Accra, Ghana. He has worked on several other projects related to governance.

Full Audio File Size
99 MB
Full Audio Title
Kwesi Jonah -Full Interview

Mohammed Mokhlesar Rahman Sarker

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J
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
6
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Mohammed Mokhlesar Rahman Sarker
Interviewee's Position
Director, Electoral Training Institute
Interviewee's Organization
Election Commission Secretariat, Bangladesh
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Mohammed Sarker discusses the role of the Electoral Training Institute—a sister organization to the Bangladesh Election Commission—in training all electoral management staff in Bangladesh. He explains the founding of the institute, and the role of the government of Bangladesh, international organizations and donors in strengthening the institution. Sarker reflects upon the training methods and curricula used by the institute, as well as its highly successful administrative structure.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Mohammed Mokhlesar Rahman Sarker was the director of the Electoral Training Institute, a sister organization to the Bangladesh Election Commission that is responsible for training the entire electoral staff in the country. He had held the position for two and a half years. Some time after the interview, he became deputy commissioner of the Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh.

Full Audio File Size
41MB
Full Audio Title
Mohammed Sarker Interview