voter education

Ismael Valigy

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Focus Area(s)
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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

Khalfan H. Khalfan

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Focus Area(s)
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2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Khalfan H. Khalfan
Interviewee's Position
Executive Director
Interviewee's Organization
Organization of People with Disabilities
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Tanzania
Town/City
Zanzibar
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Khalfan H. Khalfan, executive director of the Organization of People with Disabilities, talks about his and others' efforts in Zanzibar to enfranchise disabled people.  He addresses the challenges involved in ensuring disabled people can exercise their right to vote and explains the particular difficulties disabled people face in accessing polling stations, casting their votes in private, and avoiding election violence.  He also speaks briefly about his role as an election observer in Zanzibar’s first multiparty election in 1995 and some of the irregularities he noted during that election.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Khalfan H. Khalfan was executive director of the Organization of People with Disabilities, an advocacy group that he founded in 1985 in his native Zanzibar.  He became involved in disabled-rights activism after traveling to Singapore to attend a meeting for the disabled in 1981, the International Year of Disabled People.  Khalfan also founded the Eastern African Federation of the Disabled.  He was a member of the World Council of Disabled People International for more than 20 years, an elected vice chair for development and underrepresented groups of Disabled People International from 2002 to 2007, and chairperson of the Pan African Federation of the Disabled for 12 years.  Prior to his activism on behalf of rights for the disabled, he worked as a secondary-school teacher for almost 20 years.  He died in March 2009.

Full Audio File Size
50 MB
Full Audio Title
Khalfan H. Khalfan - Full Interview

Johann Kriegler

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Focus Area(s)
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4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Johann Kriegler
Interviewee's Position
Chairman
Interviewee's Organization
South Africa Independent Electoral Commission, 1994
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
South African
Town/City
Johannesburg
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Johann Kriegler traces the fascinating story of South Africa’s post-apartheid election, the country’s first fully inclusive democratic poll. As head of the newly formed Independent Electoral Commission in 1994, Kriegler was at the heart of the process. He details the challenges the commission faced in the early months of 1994. Chief among these were a tight timeframe, the absence of a voters roll, the high level of mistrust that permeated South African politics at the time, and the weight of public expectation. Kriegler outlines how the commission tackled these challenges, and he highlights several innovative approaches along the way. He describes the vital roles played by the commission’s monitoring directorate, the party liaison committees, and Operation Access, a program that helped parties campaign in areas that were otherwise out of reach. He explains how key players were brought into the electoral process, often at the last minute, and stresses the important role that determined political will played in the ultimate success of the elections.   

Case Study:  Organizing the First Post-Apartheid Election, South Africa, 1994

Profile

Johann Kriegler was chairman of South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in 1994. Before he was appointed to the IEC, Kriegler was an Appeals Court judge. After 1994, he worked as an adviser in various sensitive electoral processes around the world. He chaired the commission investigating the violence that erupted following the Kenyan elections of 2007, and he served on Afghanistan’s U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission in 2010. 

Full Audio File Size
82MB
Full Audio Title
Johann Kriegler Interview

Fatma Ally

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Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
7
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Fatma Ally
Interviewee's Position
Chairperson
Interviewee's Organization
Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Tanzania
Town/City
Zanzibar
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Fatma Ally, chairperson of the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association, talks about the group’s voter-education efforts during the 2005 parliamentary and presidential elections.  She details the challenges the organization faced in reassuring voters of its neutrality.  She also discusses how messages for the voter education program were developed and the difficulties that the association encountered in securing enough time for the education program before the polling date.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Fatma Ally was the chairperson of the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association.  She also worked as an executive counselor at the association.

Full Audio File Size
20 MB
Full Audio Title
Fatima Ally - Full Interview

Kunzang Wangdi

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Focus Area(s)
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8
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Kunzang Wangdi
Interviewee's Position
Chief Election Commissioner
Interviewee's Organization
Bhutan
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bhutanese
Place (Building/Street)
Election Commission of Bhutan
Town/City
Thimphu
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Kunzang Wangdi explains how, in his role as chief election commissioner of Bhutan, he set up and ran the country’s first democratic elections in 2008.  Wangdi explains the process that led up to the first election, including drafting laws and operationalizing the constitution, creating and managing a voter-registration process, training election workers and educating citizens on their role in a democratic process.  He discusses working with international observers and the media, reaching voters in remote areas, using electronic voting machines and moving forward for future elections.  Wangdi touches on the issue of security during the election and also explains Bhutan’s use of a mock election in 2007 to prepare election workers and voters for the electoral process.
Profile

At the time of this interview, Kunzang Wangdi was chief election commissioner of Bhutan.  In that capacity he set up and ran Bhutan’s first democratic elections.  Prior to his appointment as commissioner in 2005, Wangdi served as auditor general of Bhutan’s Royal Audit Authority.  He was also director of the Royal Institute of Management.  Wangdi began working for Bhutan’s civil service in 1977.  He received a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Stephens College in India and completed a master’s degree in public administration at Penn State.

Full Audio File Size
74MB
Full Audio Title
Kunzang Wangdi Interview

Clarence Kipobota

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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

Thomas Du

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Focus Area(s)
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1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Thomas Du
Interviewee's Position
Senior Program Officer
Interviewee's Organization
National Democratic Institute, Liberia
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Liberian
Town/City
Monrovia
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Thomas Du, senior program officer at the National Democratic Institute in Liberia, explains his organization’s charge to facilitate the country’s transition to democracy by working closely with civil society and by engaging constructively with the government. Du recounts the history of party politics in Liberia, highlighting the racial divisions between dark-skinned natives and lighter-skinned repatriated American settlers, long periods of military rule and rigged elections. Parties proliferated as vehicles for individuals to attain power rather than on ideological grounds while significant portions of the population like youth, illiterates, and unskilled workers were neglected. Du explains the National Election Commission’s choice to be inclusive rather than strict in enforcing all electoral rules that would bar some people and parties from the process. He discusses the weak role of the media in the country and the difficulty of getting appropriate materials to illiterate voters. He touches on some different motivations that may have affected voters’ choices in the 2005 election as they determined what kind of leader they wanted to steer them through the democratic transition safely. Du emphasizes the importance of opening up the process by allowing multiple parties and media sources access to the political arena, while avoiding crowding the field with too many parties or news sources. He endorses developing and implementing rules for interparty competition, defining the roles of different stakeholders, and finding a way for parties to effectively disseminate their ideas to voters. Du analyzes election monitoring in the 2005 election and champions domestic monitoring of elections throughout the full election cycle to establish ownership of the process.  Looking toward future elections, he calls for the involvement of youth and women in civic culture and the cultivation of future leaders.
 
Profile
At the time of this interview, Thomas Du was the senior program officer at the National Democratic Institute in Liberia. His work at the institute supported the development of civil service infrastructure to assist in building democratic institutions in Liberia. He also studied the successes and failures of these techniques as a means of improvement.
Full Audio File Size
81 MB
Full Audio Title
Thomas Du - Full Interview

Humayun Kabir

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Focus Area(s)
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3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Humayun Kabir
Interviewee's Position
Secretary of the Election Commission Secretariat
Interviewee's Organization
Bangladesh Election Commission
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Bangladeshi
Town/City
Dhaka
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Humayun Kabir, a secretary at the Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat, shares his experience in the 2008 Bangladeshi election.  He talks about many aspects of the electoral process and how the newly constituted Election Commission dealt with them between February 2007 and December 2008.  He details the voter-registration and boundary-delimitation processes and the multiple challenges the commission faced in accomplishing these tasks.  He also highlights successful innovations such as the photographic voter registry and the use of transparent ballot boxes, which he credits with limiting post-election violence in 2008.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Humayun Kabir was a secretary of the Bangladesh Election Commission Secretariat.  He joined the commission in 2007, shortly after it had undergone a significant restructuring exercise in response to the postponement of the 2007 Bangladeshi election.  Prior to joining the Election Commission he was the managing director of the national insurance corporation, Sadharan Bima Corp.  He also worked as joint secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, as deputy secretary of the Cabinet and in various capacities at other Bangladeshi ministries.

Full Audio File Size
39.2MB
Full Audio Title
Humayun Kabir- Full Interview

Howard Sackstein

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Focus Area(s)
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8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Howard Sackstein
Interviewee's Position
Coordinator, Investigations Unit: Gauteng Office, 1994 Elections
Interviewee's Organization
Independent Electoral Commission, South Africa
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
South African
Place (Building/Street)
Salcom Voice Services
Town/City
Johannesburg
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Howard Sackstein discusses the work of the Independent Electoral Commission’s Investigations Unit in 1994.  He outlines some of the challenges that the electoral commission faced that year, including a very limited timeframe, the logistical challenges of running elections in a largely rural country and the high levels of distrust and suspicion that permeated South Africa’s transition to democracy.  He also charts the many innovative aspects of the election, such as an electoral code of conduct that included serious sanctions, an effective voter education campaign, the use of professional mediators to settle local disputes and the establishment of party liaison committees.  He outlines some of the ingenious responses that individual poll workers displayed in the face of serious challenges.  He discusses the lessons the commission learned from 1994 and how commission staff drew from these lessons while preparing for the 1999 elections. 
 
Profile

South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission initially hired Howard Sackstein in February 1994 to investigate breaches of the electoral code of conduct in Mpumalanga.  Within a few weeks of joining the organization, he was promoted to coordinate the Gauteng office of the commission’s Investigations Unit, where he oversaw 36 lawyers.  After the 1994 elections, Sackstein was one of two people retained to shut down the operations of the temporary Independent Electoral Commission, before the creation of the permanent Independent Electoral Commission.  He played a key role in the 1999 elections.  In early 2010 he was running his own technology firm, Saicom Voice Services.

Full Audio File Size
144MB
Full Audio Title
Howard Sackstein Interview

Raphael Trotman

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Focus Area(s)
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6
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Raphael Trotman
Interviewee's Position
Member of Parliament; Party Leader
Interviewee's Organization
Alliance for Change, Guyana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Guyanese
Town/City
Georgetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Raphael Trotman gives a detailed account of the role of the Alliance for Change party in the 2006 Guyanan elections, which were hailed by the Carter Center as the most peaceful that Guyana ever had. In addition to the mediating force of the AFC in the elections, Trotman credits the United Nations Development Programme, the heavy presence of election observers and the actions of civil society institutions with helping assure peaceful elections. He recognizes the strides the Guyana Elections Commission made in the area of election results, but he tempers that praise with criticism of the organization's partiality in matters concerning funding for the payment of scrutineers (political party-based poll workers), recruitment of poll workers, and ensuing legal battles with the Alliance for Change. Trotman offers a sobering account of results from the 2006 election that were still being contested at the time of the interview.

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

Profile

At the time of this interview, Raphael Trotman was a member of the Guyanese Parliament and leader of the Alliance for Change political party. A lawyer by training, Trotman describes himself as "in the middle" racially, with roots in both the East Indian and African ethnic groups that stratify much of the political and social thinking in Guyana. His background in conflict studies and resolution led him to help form the AFC as a third-party alternative to the dominant People's Progressive Party and the People's National Congress.

Full Audio File Size
60.3MB
Full Audio Title
Raphael Trotman- Full Interview