Voter Registration

Kwadwo Afari-Gyan

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E
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

William Hogan

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A
Focus Area(s)
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5
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
William Hogan
Interviewee's Position
United Nations Logistics Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Australian
Town/City
Freetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

William Hogan discusses his experiences as a United Nations logistics adviser for Sierra Leone's National Electoral Commission.  He talks about the potential for institutions like the commission to become dependent on aid organizations and donors, and the problems that this presents for creating sustainable and independent institutions, as well as for ensuring that the programs reflect the interests of the country and not the interests of donors.  Hogan emphasizes the importance of long-term capacity building and the need for self-criticism among civil servants within the commission, in order for them to grow in their capacity and in their functional independence.  He mentions the difficulties with working through linguistic barriers and with limited tools and infrastructure, and concludes by emphasizing the importance of understanding each country’s unique characteristics and context in policy decisions.     

Profile
At the time of this interview, William Hogan was a United Nations logistics adviser to the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone.  He joined the U.N. as a volunteer in 1993 and served in a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Cambodia and Mozambique.   Subsequent to this interview, Hogan worked in Moldova, Kenya and Tanzania with the U.N., and in Uganda on the South Sudan referendum.  He then worked in the Solomon Islands with AusAID as the election operations adviser to the Electoral Commission.   In his native Australia, Hogan spent about 15 years at the Electoral Commission.

 

Full Audio File Size
41 MB
Full Audio Title
William Hogan - Full Interview

Vincent Crabbe

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E
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

Frances Johnson-Allison (formerly Johnson-Morris)

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D
Focus Area(s)
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13
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Nealin Parker
Name
Frances Johnson-Allison (formerly Johnson-Morris)
Interviewee's Position
2008 Interview, Former Chairwoman
Interviewee's Organization
National Election Commission of Liberia
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Liberian
Town/City
Monrovia
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract
Frances Johnson-Morris describes her involvement in the 2005 Liberian general elections as the chairwoman of the National Election Commission (NEC).  She provides insight into the decision to overhaul and restructure the old Elections Commission and shares the challenges faced by the NEC in ensuring the credibility of the elections. Johnson-Morris details the problem of working in an election environment involving multiple international stakeholders. Describing the process of scheduling the elections, she also stresses the importance of establishing and adhering to a strict timeline. She further outlines how the credibility of the NEC was bolstered by its independence from the government and the transparency of the entire election process. Johnson-Morris goes on to describe the particular successes of the election, citing the overwhelming turnout of voters as an example.  She also discusses the recruitment of the election staff and comments on training, monitoring and payment strategies.  She further identifies the provision of adequate resources as crucial to the success of any election. She concludes by emphasizing the importance of election planning and the need for those involved in electoral decision making to ensure that both their character and actions remain above reproach. 
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Frances Johnson-Morris was Liberia's minister of commerce and industry, having taken office in 2007. She served as the chairwoman of the National Elections Commission in Monrovia during the 2005 elections.  A lawyer by profession, Johnson-Morris was appointed as minister of justice in 2006, simultaneously holding the office of attorney  general.  In 1997, she was also the chief justice of the Supreme Court.  She was the national director of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Liberia from 2004 to 2005.  She was also a resident circuit judge from 1989-1997. Johnson-Morris holds a degree in law from the Louis Arthur Grimmes School of Law, Monrovia, as well as a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Liberia, Monrovia.

Full Audio File Size
50 MB
Full Audio Title
Frances Johnson-Morris - Full Interview

Clarence Kipobota

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G
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
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

Ismael Valigy

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N
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

Amon E. Chaligha

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G
Focus Area(s)
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4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Amon E. Chaligha
Interviewee's Position
Commissioner
Interviewee's Organization
National Electoral Commission
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Tanzanian
Town/City
Dar es Salaam
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Professor Chaligha discusses the management of elections by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in mainland Tanzania and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Zanzibar. The NEC is responsible for registering voters, demarcating constituencies, and conducting voter education. The relationship between the NEC and ZEC is complex in that some Zanzibar residents, who have spent less than three years in Zanzibar, are registered for mainland Tanzania’s elections. Chaligha mentions NEC’s efforts to maintain transparency on election day. For example, all candidates are allowed to place an election monitor at the polling station during voting. Following Tanzania’s constitution, leaders of political parties – including members of Parliament, councilors and ministers – are not permitted to serve on the NEC. In contrast to the NEC, the ZEC does permit political party members on the commission. A major hindrance to the NEC is its reliance on the government for funding. Chaligha proposes an election fund that the commission could call on only for elections.     

Profile

Amon Chaligha first began monitoring elections at the University of Dar es Salaam for the Department of Political Science and Department of Public Administration. The University had been involved in monitoring elections since its founding in the 1960s. At the time of the interview, Chaligha was an associate professor at the university, where he taught local government and administration and human resource management. Following his experience in monitoring elections, he was asked to join the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania as a commissioner. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Audio File Size
60 MB
Full Audio Title
Chaligha - Full Interview

Humayun Kabir

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J
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

Rupert Roopnaraine

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L
Focus Area(s)
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8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Rupert Roopnaraine
Interviewee's Position
Co-Leader
Interviewee's Organization
Working People's Alliance
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Guyanese
Town/City
Georgetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Rupert Roopnaraine discusses his role in the Constitutional Reform Commission in Guyana. He details the challenge of recommending reforms to better balance power in a government that was constitutionally highly centralized on the Office of the President and the difficulty of dealing with a government reflexively resistant to electoral reform. He touches on the question of proportional representation, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the system, why he believes removing the proportional representation system is a necessary first step in reforming the quality of parliamentary conduct and productivity, and why he believes a first-past-the-post system is better for local government. Roopnaraine discusses the commission’s strategies to address high ethnic tensions exacerbated by racialization of political parties and outlines the commission’s success in putting together an Elections Commission that was acceptable to both incumbent and opposition parties. He lays out the events around Guyana’s failed 1997 elections that led to the formation of the Constitutional Reform Commission and political difficulties in Guyana at the time of the interview. He also discusses progress made on the rights of indigenous people, the reasons why many reforms were never fully implemented, and the challenges of putting together new voter registration lists.
 
Profile

Rupert Roopnaraine was a co-leader of the Working People's Alliance in Guyana, a group he joined in 1979. He served as a member of Parliament from 1995 to 2000 and on the Constitutional Reform Commission in 1998.  He also was a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, special select committees on the Integrity Bill and on the Trade Union Bill, and the Public Accounts Committee. He also was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Missions for elections in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zanzibar. At the time of this interview, he was program director of the Guyana Citizens’ Initiative.  He received his doctorate in comparative literature from Cornell University, and he taught at the University of Guyana, Cornell, and Columbia University in various capacities.

Full Audio File Size
80 MB
Full Audio Title
Rupert Roopnaraine Interview

S.K. Mendiratta

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T
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Michael Scharff
Name
S.K. Mendiratta
Interviewee's Position
Legal Adviser
Interviewee's Organization
Election Commission of India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
New Delhi
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
S.K. Mendiratta speaks about his work with the Election Commission of India. He opens the discussion by describing the system of vulnerability mapping in order to determine the areas most prone to election violence and intimidation. This included finding areas that had unusually low turnout and providing them with police protection. He notes that known trouble makers are put under increased police monitoring during this time as well. In the second part of the interview, Mendiratta elaborates on the efforts of the Election Commission to curb voter intimidation. These included unique methods such as video monitoring at polls in order to ensure legal compliance. He concludes his discussion by adding detail on the accountability measures keeping watch of the Election Commission. Through focusing on the attitudes of outgoing opposition parties, they are able to determine the perceived fairness of the election.
 
Profile

At the time of the interview, S.K. Mendiratta was the legal advisor to the Election Commission of India. He began his career nearly 46 years earlier as an assistant in the Election Commission. Beginning in 1979, Mendiratta was responsible for all legal affairs of the commission, including electoral reform legislation and litigation work of the commission before the Supreme Court and High Courts in India. Although he had been retired for 13 years at the time of the interview, Mendiratta continued much of his work in an advisory position. 

Full Audio File Size
74 MB
Full Audio Title
S.K. Mendiratta Interview