rural voter registration

Clarence Kipobota

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G
Focus Area(s)
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6
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Clarence Kipobota
Interviewee's Position
Outreach Services Coordinator
Interviewee's Organization
Legal and Human Rights Center
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Tanzania
Place (Building/Street)
Legal and Human Rights Center
Town/City
Dar es Salaam
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Clarence Kipobota draws on his experience working on pre- and post-election issues at the Legal and Human Rights Center to address various aspects of Tanzania’s electoral process.  He highlights problems with the independence of the Electoral Committee, updating the permanent voter registry, ensuring the enfranchisement of marginalized groups and combating voter fraud.  He also details how the center and its partners were pushing for reform, and he discusses the voter-education activities they were leading.

Profile

Clarence Kipobota joined the Legal and Human Rights Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, after graduating from law school in 2003.  At the time of this interview, he held the position of outreach services coordinator, working to coordinate nine different programs focusing on mass education, human rights monitoring, gender, legal aid, public engagement, election watch, Parliament watch, justice watch and government watch.  He was involved in the pre- and post-election activities of the center.

Full Audio File Size
61.8MB
Full Audio Title
Clarence Kipobota- Full Interview

Rebooting the System: Technological Reforms in Nigerian Elections, 2010-2011

Author
Gabriel Kuris
Focus Area(s)
Core Challenge
Country of Reform
Abstract
In 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed committed reformer Attahiru Jega to chair Nigeria’s electoral commission, building hope that the West African nation would finally break its chain of discredited elections. With under a year to prepare for the April 2011 elections, the commission turned to emerging technologies such as open-source software and social media to register 73 million voters from scratch and open a direct dialogue with the electorate. A small team of young Nigerian engineers guided by Nyimbi Odero pioneered these innovations, many of which contradicted the advice of elections experts. Despite some initial technical difficulties, Nigeria’s homegrown technology enabled the commission to prepare for elections goals on schedule and under budget. The credibility the commission earned helped spur unprecedented levels of voter participation. Ultimately, domestic and international observers validated the 2011 elections as the most free and fair in Nigeria’s history.
 

Gabriel Kuris drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria, in October 2011. Case published March 2012. For a broader analysis of Nigeria's 2011 elections, see "Toward a Second Independence: Repairing Nigeria's Electoral Commission, 2010-2011."

Associated Interview(s): Nyimbi OderosDapo Olorunyomi

 

Calvin Benn

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L
Focus Area(s)
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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Calvin Benn
Interviewee's Position
Deputy Commissioner of the National Registration and Deputy Chief Election Officer of Operations
Interviewee's Organization
Guyana Elections Commission
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Guyanese
Town/City
Georgetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Calvin Benn of the Guyana Elections Commission recounts the depth and breadth of his experience in the administration and management of Guyana's national elections, particularly focusing on the successes of the 2006 election process.  In his capacity with the commission, Benn oversaw the registration of voters and administration of polling places, including the distribution of polling supplies, recruitment and training of poll workers, and vote counting and verification.  Benn shares some relatively straightforward approaches to resolving voting day challenges, including simulation exercises, acquainting poll workers and security forces with polling places, the training of political party polling "scrutineers," the shipment of polling supplies, and the procedure for vote counting.  The interview can be broken into two related but distinct parts: Benn's role as the administrator of the polling process and his related but separate responsibility overseeing a continuous registration process for national identification cards for purposes that include but are not limited to voting registration. 

Case Study:  Cooling Ethnic Conflict Over a Heated Election: Guyana, 2001-2006

Profile

At the time of this interview, Calvin Benn was the deputy commissioner of national registration and deputy chief election officer of operations at the Guyana Elections Commission.  He became a full-time employee of the commission secretariat in 2000, having served the organization since 1975 in various part-time positions.  He previously taught and worked for the the Ministry of Education.  His experience with administration of elections in Guyana includes local, district, and national elections.  He oversaw the continuous registration process as well as a house-to-house registration verification exercise. 

Full Audio File Size
68.6MB
Full Audio Title
Calvin Benn- Full Interview

Managing the Political and Practical: Nepal's Constituent Assembly Elections, 2006-2008

Author
Michael Scharff
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract
Appointed chairman of Nepal’s Election Commission in October 2006, Bhojraj Pokharel faced an uphill battle. One month after his appointment, a peace agreement between major political parties and Maoist rebels ended a 10-year conflict and set the stage for elections to a Constituent Assembly that would write a new constitution. An interim government would choose a new electoral system and set the rules for the contest. With the Maoists threatening to resume hostilities if the elections did not take place on schedule, Pokharel, a former civil servant with no previous experience managing elections, had to work quickly. His main goal was to ensure the elections were maximally inclusive, free of fraud and peaceful so as to avoid giving the parties reason to pull out of the electoral process or boycott the results and send the country back into chaos. Pokharel worked closely with the interim government, providing valuable information and counsel on electoral rules and requirements. He oversaw the updating of voter lists, hired poll workers and helped assemble a special police service. Political squabbling forced the commission to delay the elections twice, yet as the chief architect of the process, Pokharel managed to keep the parties engaged. In April 2008, Nepalese citizens finally went to the polls. Although there was violence during the campaign period and on election day, as well as reports of voting irregularities, the election strengthened the fragile peace. The Maoists joined the government, and democratically elected representatives began the difficult task of drawing up a new constitution. In 2012, the peace continued to hold even though persistent disagreements in the Constituent Assembly had stymied efforts to produce a constitution.
 
Michael Scharff drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal, in December 2010 and using an interview conducted by Rushda Majeed in July 2011. Case published in June 2012. Most ISS case studies rest on large numbers of interviews. This case study was informed in large part by an interview with Bhojraj Pokharel, who served as chief election commissioner of the Election Commission of Nepal from 2006 to 2008.
 
Associated Interview(s):  Neel Kantha Uprety

George Sarpong

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E
Focus Area(s)
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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
George Sarpong
Interviewee's Position
Executive Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
National Media Commission, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

George Sarpong explains the role of the National Media Commission in Ghana, and the role the media plays in elections in Ghana.  He goes into detail about the way media is employed by the political parties and the electoral management body, distinguishing between state-owned media and privately owned media in this process.  He also explains the role of the media in educating the public in terms of voter registration and how the media has been used to reach out to marginalized populations.  He explains how the media commission regulates negative campaigning, and he discusses the overall role of the commission.  Finally, he describes how election monitors are used and what their goals are in monitoring elections.
 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, George Sarpong was the executive secretary of the National Media Commission in Ghana.  His extensive experience included involvement with media issues relating to elections through his capacity as the executive director of the Youth Network for Human Rights and Democracy, working with youth to increase capacity to participate in democratic discourse, and on issues to prevent violence in elections.  He served as a member of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, coordinating media activities, and consulted regularly on media, media monitoring, and governance issues for multiple organizations.  He also was involved in elections in Sierra Leona, Cameroon and Liberia.  

Full Audio File Size
44 MB
Full Audio Title
George Sarpong - Full Interview

Alex Paila

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A
Focus Area(s)
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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

Kwesi Jonah

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Focus Area(s)
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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

Zahurul Alam

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Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
10
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Zahurul Alam
Interviewee's Position
Director
Interviewee's Organization
Election Working Group
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Zahurul Alam discusses the role of the Election Working Group—a coalition of 33 nongovernmental organizations—in voter registration, voter education, and election observation in Bangladesh. He begins by discussing recent events in Bangladeshi politics, including the boycott of most political parties of the 2007 elections and the imposition of a state of emergency. He speaks about other challenges to fair elections, especially the existence of 15 million false entries in the voters list. The working group and the Bangladesh Election Commission together created a new voters list. He elaborates on the efforts of the working group to mobilize voters for registration, including voter education, advertising and information dissemination, and the organization of rallies across Bangladesh. Alam discusses specific efforts to provide information to rural and minority voters. He further reflects on the organization and management of the working group, and speaks at length about support from the election commission, other NGOs, the media, and the army. Finally, Alam speaks about the subsequent role of the working group in election observation in 2008. 

Case Study:  Energizing the Civil Service: Managing at the Top 2, Bangladesh, 2006-2011

Profile
At the time of the interview, Zahurul Alam was director of the Election Working Group, a coalition of 33 nongovernmental organizations, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He had held the position since 2006. Previously, he managed another electoral project at the Bangladesh Election Commission. Prior to that he had been employed by various international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.K. Department for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency.  
Full Audio File Size
87 MB
Full Audio Title
Zahurul Alam - Full Interview

Vincent Crabbe

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Focus Area(s)
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10
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Vincent Crabbe
Interviewee's Position
Co-Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, Vincent Crabbe discusses his experience confronting the many challenges of ensuring transparency in the conduct of elections. One of the chief obstacles to transparent elections is the compilation of a reliable voter registry. For instance, in the absence of birth certificates and other forms of identification, he notes the difficulty of ascertaining whether a voter is of legal voting age. Other obstacles to compiling the lists include the fact that multiple individuals have the same name. Crabbe explains key reforms to Ghana’s elections process that he believes are transferrable to other countries, including see-through ballot boxes and counting ballots at polling stations to reduce the likelihood of tampering with while en route to counting centers. Finally, Crabbe sheds light on what he believes are the key attributes required for an electoral commissioner.   

Case Study:  Keeping the Peace in a Tense Election: Ghana, 2008

Profile

At the time of this interview, Vincent Crabbe was the co-chairman of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, which monitored all aspects of public elections in Ghana. Decades earlier, Crabbe established the country’s Electoral Commission. In 1968, he was appointed interim electoral commissioner. In this role, he oversaw the 1969 democratic elections that brought an end to military rule. Crabbe's status as interim electoral commissioner was equivalent to that of a judge on the Court of Appeals. He also served as the chairman of the Constituent Assembly for the drafting of Ghana's 1979 Constitution, as parliamentary counsel and constitutional adviser to the Ugandan government, and as director of the Commonwealth Secretariat Scheme for Legislative Draftsmen for the West, East, Southern and Central Africa Regions and the Caribbean Region. He also drafted the Guiding Principles for UNESCO in the field of Education, Scientific and Cultural Exchanges. He taught at the International Law Development Centre in Rome, Italy, and was a professor of legislative drafting at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

Full Audio File Size
82 MB
Full Audio Title
Vincet Crabbe - Full Interview

Ismael Valigy

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N
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
10
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Ismael Valigy
Interviewee's Position
Member
Interviewee's Organization
Mozambique's Central Election Commission, 1994
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Mozambican
Town/City
Maputo
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Ismael Valigy talks about his role on Mozambique’s election commission in 1994, when he helped oversee the country’s first free and fair elections after a long civil war.  He begins by providing background information on the challenges that negotiators faced in 1993 while drafting the country’s new electoral law.  He goes on to discuss the pivotal role played by the election commission’s chairman, Brazao Mazula, who managed to build consensus among political adversaries within the commission when it began operating in 1994.  Valigy explains in detail the sequencing of different parts of the electoral process, and how discussions within the election commission evolved.  He talks about some of the obstacles the commission encountered, including difficulties accessing rural areas and a last-minute boycott by the main opposition party.  Valigy also highlights the important role that the international community played in financing and supporting Mozambique’s first elections.
 
Profile

Ismael Valigy began his career at the Ministry of Education in the late 1970s. In 1990 he began working as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Two years later, during the Mozambican peace negotiations that spanned the early 1990s, Valigy was invited to represent the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a group that the government established to help organize the country’s first election after a 15-year civil war. In late 1993 the ruling party nominated Valigy to serve on the country’s newly established Central Election Commission.  After the elections he continued his career as a diplomat, which included a posting to Washington, D.C. 

Full Audio File Size
79MB
Full Audio Title
Ismael Valigy Interview