vote counting

Neel Kantha Uprety

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K
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
12
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Neel Kantha Uprety
Interviewee's Position
Commissioner
Interviewee's Organization
Election Commission of Nepal
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Nepalese
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract
Neel Kantha Uprety discusses his role at the Election Commission of Nepal and the changes that took place since 1990 through its role as a constitutionally appointed independent body. He details the changes and challenges encountered in voter registration methods, voter education, the type of electoral system used, and the creation of the election management body through legislation and the constitution. He also talks about the methods adopted to build trust among the people and the need to have open consultations between political parties through formal and informal meetings. He describes how the commission became more transparent over the years with increasing interaction with civil society through regular meetings, and grassroots level projects. Uprety details the election process in Nepal from the commission’s perspective in terms of scaling up staff, training, use of ballot boxes, the introduction of electronic voting, and procurement. He offers insights into common problems encountered on election day, such as voter identification and the use of identification cards, and discusses how to overcome them.
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Neel Kantha Uprety was commissioner at the Election Commission of Nepal. He became involved in electoral work in Nepal in the early 1990s. He also worked for the United Nations as a senior election coordinator in Afghanistan and as an election observer in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. He earned a master's degree in economics and public administration in Nepal, and a post-graduate diploma and master's degree in computer science in the U.K.

Full Audio File Size
80.4MB
Full Audio Title
Mr. Neel Kanth Uprety-Full interview

Organizing the First Post-Apartheid Election, South Africa, 1994

Author
Amy Mawson
Country of Reform
Internal Notes
1.4.13 corrected ANC name in text.
Abstract

South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission faced a daunting task in January 1994.  The newly established body had less than four months to organize and implement the country's first fully inclusive democratic elections.  The stakes were high.  A successful vote would signal a new beginning for the nation after the apartheid era.  Failure could mean civil war.  Choosing suitable polling sites, dealing with parties' distrust, reaching alienated and possibly hostile communities,  addressing potential spoiler issues and remedying shortages of electoral materials posed formidable challenges.  The commission's difficulties snowballed.  In the end, however, all parties accepted the election results and the Government of National Unity went ahead as planned.  The elections offer an example of how an electoral commission can sustain political will-of parties and the public-to overcome administrative shortcomings in extremely sensitive circumstances.  The case study discusses location of polling stations, temporary polling facilities, candidate access, ballots and ballot counting.

Amy Mawson drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa, in February 2010. To learn more about the second post-apartheid elections in South Africa, see "Using Conflict Management Panels to Resolve Tension in the Second Post-Apartheid Election." 

Associated Interview(s):  Johann Kriegler, Howard Sackstein, Benedict van der Ross

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

A Path to Peace: Liberia's First Post-War Elections, 2004-2005

Author
Michael Scharff
Country of Reform
Abstract
In 2005, Liberia held its first post-conflict elections, two years after a peace agreement ended 14 years of civil war. Navigating treacherous political waters and facing both time constraints and citizen skepticism, Frances Johnson-Morris, chairwoman of the newly installed National Elections Commission, oversaw a largely peaceful electoral process that ushered in a new legislature and president. A former Supreme Court chief justice, she knew that failure to hold credible elections could plunge the peace process into disarray and send the country back into conflict. To dampen the risk of violence, Johnson-Morris prioritized building citizens’ trust in the commission and took steps to ensure the elections were as inclusive as possible. She established a vetting process to hire qualified staff for the commission and conducted a thorough update of the voter registry that ensured people who lacked standard identification papers could still sign up to vote. Johnson-Morris also oversaw the design of a consultation committee that put political party representatives and elections commission staff in one room, where they could share important messages and formulate unified policy. Ordinary Liberians and independent observers expressed satisfaction with the free, fair and peaceful conduct of the elections.  
 
Michael Scharff drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia, in July 2011 and using interviews conducted by Nealin Parker in August 2008. Case published October 2011.
 
Associated Interview(s):  Thomas Du, Senesee Geso Freeman

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

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

Victoria Stewart-Jolley

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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)
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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

Kwadwo Afari-Gyan

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Focus Area(s)
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8
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan
Interviewee's Position
Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
Electoral Commission of Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
In this interview, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan explains the role of the Electoral Commission of Ghana in overseeing all public elections and referendums. He discusses the myriad responsibilities of the commission, including educating voters on the importance of participation and registering political parties and voters. He talks about the challenges of administering trustworthy elections in a country where improvements to voter registration, among other processes, are relatively new. He highlights the need for security measures to guard against fraud, and he details the creation of an Inter-Party Advisory Committee as a forum for the political parties to meet with the commission to discuss all aspects of the electoral process. 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. He was instrumental in overseeing all aspects of the commission's activities, including the formation of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee, a forum for political parties to meet with the commission to discuss changes in electoral rules and procedures. He joined the commission in 1992 as the deputy chairman of elections and took up the chairmanship the following year. Prior to his work with the commission, he was a professor at the University of Ghana, Legon, and before that he taught at Santa Clara University in the U.S.  He graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. 

Full Audio File Size
71 MB
Full Audio Title
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan - 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