Lesson I – Fundamental Elements and Functions of Elections

March 4, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science, Government
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Lesson I – What Constitutes an Election? Fundamental Elements and Functions of Elections Summary of the Lesson: This lesson provides an overview of the fundamental elements and functions of elections introducing the notion of elections as electoral cycle and its components including voter registration, information, candidacy, campaigning, balloting, observation, tabulation, complaints, and results. Warm-Up Questions and Tasks: 1. What do you think constitutes an electoral process other than the day of election itself? What preparations do you think are necessary to make an election possible? You have probably seen or been to a location where voting takes place. Think of materials and staff you see in the polling station. How did they get there? How did people working there learn their job? How did voters learn about this election? How can they make informed choices about their vote? 2. Look at the chart of an electoral cycle by clicking on these links: http://aceproject.org/ero-en/topics/electoral-management/electoral%20cycle.JPG/view or http://www.ifes.org/publication/df5353932a8e44b688aa33ab50fd552d/Paul%20Guerin% 20-%20IDEA.pdf. It will help you visualize the electoral components described in the lesson.

Recommended Reading: 1. Read the encyclopedia cover page on the ACE Project website http://aceproject.org/aceen and click on some of the titles. The table of electoral components will give you an idea of the number and kind of elements discussed in this lesson. This course uses the site as one of the major resources. For additional information on any of the topics covered in the course related to governmental elections, you can click on any of the titles in the table, which link to further information on each of the topics. Lesson: 1. Election Definition and Components According to most definitions, election is a process or mechanism for choosing candidates or making decisions for public office. Some sources describe elections as “process used to fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.”1 This course looks at election in this broader 1



sense, as a mechanism or process for making a decision by voting, whether for public office (president, parliament, or another office or issue of national or local government interest) or nonpublic office (director of an organization, board of directors, or another office or issue of organization-level interest). Specifically, this course looks at elections conducted by non-governmental organizations for the purposes of selecting leadership or deciding other issues pertinent to the organization’s governance. The kinds of elections considered relevant for this course include student council elections, professional association elections, labor union elections, school board elections, cooperatives’ elections, apartment associations’ elections, and religious associations’ elections. Despite the focus of the course on such non-governmental elections, elections for public offices (‘governmental elections’) and non-public offices (‘non-governmental elections’) share all fundamental elements and features. A useful way to think of an election is to divide it into components. To assist with this, the European Commission, International Institute for Democracy and Election Administration (International IDEA), and United Nations Development Programme developed a concept of ‘electoral cycle.’ At the most general level, the electoral cycle is divided in three main periods: the pre-electoral period, the electoral period, and the post-electoral period. For the purposes of this course, the three main periods have been adjusted for non-governmental elections. The pre-electoral period generally includes: 1. Planning (including the preparation or review of the legal framework for elections, planning of budgeting and funding, preparation of electoral calendar and operational work plans, planning for logistics and security, procurement, and staff recruitment); 2. Training (including development and training on electoral procedures and operational documents); 3. Information (including information for voters, other stakeholders in the election, and any external monitors or observers); 4. Registration (of voters and of candidates); 5. Nomination (of eligible candidates). The electoral period generally includes: 6. Campaign (by and on behalf of the candidates); 7. Voting (on-site or using other modalities including mail, internet, phone); 8. Observation (which is usually conducted by external groups and mostly, although not exclusively, focused on this period); and 9. Complaints (formal submission). The post-electoral period generally includes: 10. Results (counting, tabulating, and certification); and 11. Review (audits and evaluations). 2

The post-electoral period can also include post-election complaints and observation of results, processes which usually stretch over all three periods. In governmental elections, the electoral cycle and its three periods may not have fixed starting or ending points. In non-governmental elections, starting and ending points are easier to determine, especially when facilitated by external organizations (usually vendors providing commercial election services). They are often shorter and regulated by organization’s constitution or by-laws. However, some segments, such as voter information, complaints process, and observation cut across the whole cycle and are therefore considered ongoing activities throughout all three periods. Although there are exceptions, non-governmental elections are typically smaller in terms of the number of voters and tend to be shorter. Whereas recommended lead time to organize a governmental election is at least six months, there are examples of non-governmental elections where the entire electoral cycle is compressed into weeks or days, with only a short preparation time. In such elections, the main electoral event typically consists of a conference where legislation is updated, members or delegates vote on candidates and/or issues, and votes are counted and winners announced, all at the same event. Nevertheless, most non-governmental elections can also be seen as a cycle with all of its fundamental components. For example, the Honest Ballot Association (HBA), which specializes in conducting elections for diverse organizations, describes its election work “from the initial examination of the constitution and by-laws of the union or organization involved, through personal discussions with the officers and candidates, followed by strict and impartial supervision of the actual voting, down to the final certification of the results (should it be necessary, HBA will verify the election procedure and the results in a court of law).”2 2. Key Elements during the Pre-Electoral Period (1) Planning The election process gets under way well before the (first) day of election and well before the beginning of the candidate campaign period. The preparation and updating of voter lists is an important process crucial to ensure that the principle of universal and equal suffrage is upheld. In countries or organizations where election dates are not pre-determined in the legal framework there is usually an official announcement about the date(s) of a particular election. Once that is fixed, the authority responsible for managing elections (‘election management body’ or ‘EMB’) begins to make preparations to ensure the smooth and secure conduct of the polls. This process needs to be reported so that citizens/members are aware of it and assured about the arrangements. This is also the time, in many countries and organizations, when political parties or blocs begin the process of screening and selecting candidates for the polls. This is an important procedure that usually involves media and/or civil society scrutiny to ensure that the laws, including rules and regulations about voter and candidate eligibility, are followed. Planning also helps prevent malpractices and thereby creates more trust in the electoral system.


The Honest Ballot Association website http://www.honestballot.com/services.html


As one of its most important components, planning includes the preparation or review of the legal framework for elections. The legal framework for an election is the hierarchy of laws and rules which govern the type, timing, participation, and voting rules for an election. In the public sphere, the legal frameworks involve the following four levels of focus and definition:    

Constitution Legislation Regulations Administrative Procedures

For non-governmental elections, the legal framework will include the organization’s charter or constitution and by-laws. These documents should be supplemented with a body of regulations defining administrative procedures to implement the mandate of the charter and by-laws. The legal framework includes the rules of eligibility to vote as well as the rule for candidacy. In the public sphere, voter eligibility is defined by citizenship, age, residence (both location and length). In a non-governmental election, eligibility is defined by membership and whose status constitutes them being a voting member. In some elections, membership can be restricted to certain members, such as to citizens only in journalists associations which include foreigners. In some cooperatives’ elections, weighted voting is employed based upon the ownership of shares. The legal framework will generally include the time or the intervals for elections. However, establishing the detailed timeline for an election is a separate function which takes place during the pre-electoral period. In addition to the legal framework for elections, planning includes planning of budgeting and funding, preparation of electoral calendar and operational work plans, planning for logistics and security, procurement, and staff recruitment. (2) Training All electoral staff, from poll workers to logisticians, warehouse managers, and counting officers need to be trained in their job. In addition, other electoral stakeholders require training, not only information about the election. For example, observers require training about what to do (and not to do) in the polling station and this kind of training may be conducted by multiple organizations (most of it by an observer group and some of it by an EMB). Electoral staff is trained in election procedures but also in operational matters. Poll workers, warehouse managers, and count managers for example do not need to be trained in the same material but all require extensive training. Training may take place in a centralized manner, i.e. where all staff is trained in one major location or in a distributed manner, i.e. multiple locations. Where staff are disbursed over a large territory or infrastructure or security considerations do not allow for centralized training, training is usually conducted in a cascade manner where a smaller group of trainers is trained in one location and deployed to train larger groups in multiple locations, who 4

in turn train another group and so on until all staff are reached. Any training requires careful planning but cascade training requires an especially careful design to ensure complete coverage and enough time so that everyone is trained in time for an election. Advanced module contains more detailed information about the training, its components, and examples of election training manuals. It is important to remember that there are multiple election training topics and many electoral staff that need to be trained in a timely fashion in order for an election to take place. In order to ensure the quality of the training, the training needs to be evaluated on continuous basis by incorporating evaluation methodologies of training staff throughout and immediately after the training. Evaluation results need to be incorporated into the training and parts of training repeated or reinforced, or the entire training repeated. To ensure electoral staff’s compliance with the material, the staff is usually required to sign a statement to that effect called the “Code of Conduct.” Codes of Conduct are usually introduced and signed during the training. You can read more about Codes of Conduct in the lesson on electoral norms and standards (Lesson II). (3) Information Potential voters in an election must be aware of the importance of voting as well as the choices with regard to candidates and voting procedures. Voters must have the opportunity to become interested in and knowledgeable about the election through access to non-partisan information presented in a manner that is not only comprehensible but also clarifies the connection between policy and its effect on the lives of people in public sector elections or implications in organizational setting for non-public sector elections. Without such knowledge they will be vulnerable to manipulation, even deception, by special interests. In addition, information about election rules and processes is necessary to assist people in participating in the elections. At the basic level citizens/members require information on how they can become registered voters, the duration of the campaign, the procedure and locations for casting votes, their rights as voters, the who, what, when, where and how of vote-counting, and so on. They also need to be equipped with information on regulations regarding campaign spending and advertising by parties, blocks or candidates during elections, as well as guidelines on media coverage of candidates and campaigns. Potential voters must be familiarized with the EMB ensuring that such regulations and guidelines are followed and imposing penalties for violations. The media must also closely watch the election process – throughout the campaign, on voting day and until the results are announced – to determine whether or not laws and rules are being followed without corruption or favoritism and without interfering with the rights of voters as individuals or as members of any particular societal group. Election reporting does not end with the declaration of the results. In a public sector election, for example, it extends to the process of forming the government and in non-public sector, it extends until the candidate is certified. Reporters who have covered the election process for a public


office or within an organization are also best placed to keep tabs on parties, blocks and candidates afterwards, especially in terms of action on fulfillment of election promises. (4) Registration of Voters and Candidates Voter registration is the process of defining the electorate by making a list or lists of those who are eligible to vote (as defined in the legal framework). In most governmental and nongovernmental elections, voter registration is conducted in advance of elections, during the preelectoral period, although there are cases of same-day registration, and rarely, of no registration. The question of who may vote is a central issue in elections. The electorate does not generally include the entire population; for example, many countries prohibit those judged mentally incompetent from voting, and most require a minimum age for voting. In governmental elections, suffrage is typically only for citizens of the country, though further limits may be imposed. However, in the European Union (EU), one can vote in municipal elections if one lives in the municipality and is an EU citizen; the nationality of the country of residence is not required. Historically, certain groups of people have been excluded from voting. For example, elections excluded women, foreigners, or slaves from voting, or allowed only certain groups to vote (according to the original United States Constitution, only white male property owners were able to vote). Much of the history of elections involves the effort to promote suffrage for excluded groups. The women's suffrage movement gave women in many countries the right to vote, and securing the right to vote freely was a major goal of the American civil rights movement. Extending voting rights to excluded groups (such as convicted felons, members of certain minorities, and the economically disadvantaged) continues to be a goal of voting rights advocates. Suffrage in non-governmental elections is mostly based on membership and so does not include the same issues when it comes to voting. There are, however, examples of exclusion in nongovernmental elections. In the United Arab Emirates, the members of the journalist association who are not citizens of UAE are not allowed to vote, as shown in Case Study II below. In some countries such as Australia, voting is required by law and eligible voters who do not cast their vote may be subject to fine, as shown in Case Study I below. Once the electorate is defined in the legal framework, the rules must describe those documents to be employed to verify voter eligibility and identity. For non-governmental organizations, the membership list is usually converted into a voter registry and made available at voting locations and/or on a website, or delivered by mail if voting is by mail. If digital photographs are available on the membership roster database, then photographs can be printed on the voter registry to enhance voter identification. Otherwise, if the organization does not have a secure identification card system, other complementary cards, such as student IDs, labor union cards, or professional certificates, could be employed to validate identity.


In addition to constituting the legal framework, advance voter registration is important in order to plan better for election logistics, i.e., the number of ballots, polling locations, and staff required. Case Study I: Registration in Australia The Australian Electoral Commission administers Australia's federal electoral roll. Each state also has its own electoral commission or office, but voters only need to register with the AEC, which passes the registration details to relevant state commissions. Voter Registration is mandatory for all citizens 18 years of age or above. An individual has 8 weeks after turning 18 to register, but may register at any time with no penalty being enforced for failure to register. Similarly, if a change of address causes an individual to move to another electorate (Electoral Division) they are legally obliged to notify the Electoral Commission within 8 weeks. In Australia, details of house and apartment sales are in the public domain. The Electoral Commission monitors these and sends a reminder (and the forms) to new residents in case they have moved to another electorate, making compliance with the law much easier. Periodically, the Electoral Commission conducts door-to-door and postal campaigns to try to ensure that all eligible persons are registered in the correct electorate. The one registration covers Federal, State and Local voter registration. In Australia it is a legal offence to fail to vote (or at the very least, attend a polling station and have one's name crossed off the roll) at any Federal or State election, punishable by a fine. The amount of the fine varies between federal and various state elections (The fine for not voting is currently AU$20.00 in Victoria. This figure is indexed at the beginning of every financial year). Usually people are issued with warnings when it is found that they have not voted, and they are given an opportunity to show cause for not voting. Acceptable reasons for not voting may include: being in the Accident Department of a Hospital, being ill (requires confirmation), being out of the country on election day, religious objections, being incarcerated etc. ‘I forgot’ is not considered acceptable and will incur a fine. Section 245 of the Electoral Act provides that if an elector who has been asked the "true reason" for his failure to vote states that he did not do so because it was against his religion, this statement shall be regarded as conclusive, and no further action will be taken.3 Case Study II: Registration in United Arab Emirates Press Association Elections The members of the General Assembly who elect the Board of Directors of the United Arab Emirates Press Association (UAEPA) include between 320 to 330 members who are entitled to vote based on the membership, as well as UAE citizenship. Namely, foreign journalists who enjoy membership in the UAEPA cannot participate in the election as voters or candidates. The opposition to the incumbent Board of Directors says that there is no accurate assessment of the number of the General Assembly members “and this is an expression of the state of anarchy which characterizes the performance of the UAEPA.… the election lists are subject to change until the moment of balloting because any member could regain his right to election if he paid 3

Australian Electoral Commission, http://aec.gov.au/enrol/


his membership fees.” Consequently, the list keeps changing every moment in light of the payment of the current and belated fees.4

In addition to the voter registration, the pre-electoral phase includes candidate registration. Candidate registration is the process of establishing that candidates meet certain criteria in order to run in the election, including demonstrating the level of support (usually by collecting signatures from supporters). Parties, coalitions, and blocs contesting the elections and proposing candidates are also required to meet certain criteria and complete documentary requirements to participate and to be added to the ballot. In some governmental elections, candidates need to be registered in certain order and including certain categories of candidates, such as women, or minorities, in order to register for an election. Non-compliance with such registration rules usually disqualifies candidates, parties or blocs from running. It is usually during the candidate registration that candidates sign or agree to follow the code of conduct. Following the determination of eligibility and candidate registration; the process of enforcement of campaign conduct (in accordance with the code of conduct and other legislation) and finance regulations takes place during the electoral period, and it is described in the next section. (5) Nomination In the context of elections for public office, a candidate chosen by the party, bloc or coalition (either by selection or internal election sometimes referred to as primary election) is called a nominee and the process the nomination. Thus, the nomination of candidates in order to gain ballot access is the formal procedure by which political parties, blocs and/or individuals put candidates forward for election, and the acceptance of that nomination. Nomination of the candidates typically takes place at the very end of the pre-electoral or the very beginning of the electoral phase, that is, closer to the election day itself. Depending on the electoral system, candidates can be nominated either by a political party or bloc, or by an individual. In list systems, parties and blocs put forward a list of candidates selected within the party of bloc. In constituency systems, candidates are nominated individually (not as part of lists). Legal frameworks can place requirements on the composition of such lists. Sometimes, requirements aimed at increasing the inclusiveness of the list by, for example, requiring the party to have a certain number of women (or other traditionally under-represented groups) are placed on the list. In some cases, not only the number but the placement on the list is specified.5 In non-governmental elections, where candidates are less numerous, an initial nominating meeting can be a separate step in the electoral process, as well as subsequent nominating meetings with the candidates.

3. Key Elements during the Electoral Period 4 5

www.intekhabat.org http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/pc/pcc/pcc02/pcc02a/default/?searchterm=Candidate%20registration


(6) Campaign (and Campaign Finance) The start of the candidate, party or bloc campaign usually marks the beginning of the electoral period. During electoral campaign, candidates in the election have an opportunity to present to prospective voters their personal profiles and future policy plans. Election campaign and campaign period are usually described in the electoral legal framework including the laws, codes of conduct, electoral regulations and procedures. EMBs can regulate candidate campaign by enforcement of campaign conduct and finance regulations. Examples include allocating public media air time in governmental elections, or regulating the campaign events or publications sent to the members by mail in non-governmental elections. The regulation of campaign finance starts immediately after the nomination period and takes place throughout the campaign period. A desirable campaign finance system “encompasses limitations on, support for, and accountability of funding for political parties, candidates and other electoral participants.”6 Its components include legal frameworks, enforcement capacity, and adjudication mechanisms. The common features of a political finance system include public funding and indirect assistance, contribution and expenditure disclosure, individual and party asset disclosure, contribution and expenditure prohibitions, and contribution and expenditure limits. (7) Voting Voting itself consists of the final preparations for election day(s), and the election day itself, which is usually divided into the period before the opening of the polls, voting in the polling stations, and the period after the polls close. In the days before voting day, and on the morning of voting day itself, the final pieces in the voting preparations jigsaw puzzle are put into place. The final preparations usually include essential materials delivery, voting station set-up, and checking that all materials are present and equipment in working order until the morning of voting day can court disaster. The final arrangements might include: • distribution of voting station material; • checking by voting station managers that all the material and equipment required for their voting stations has been delivered in the correct quantities and in good condition; • ensuring that all voting station officials have transport to and from their duty stations; • reviewing contingency plans for voting day, and implementing backup solutions for problems arising with deficiencies in materials, in voting site availability, or in staffing;


Fischer, Jeff, Marcin Walecki, Jeffrey Carlson, editors, Political Finance in Post-Conflict Societies, IFES Center for Transitional and Post-Conflict Governance, Washington, D.C., 2006, page 3


In more developed areas, voting station staff may be able to make their way to the voting station by their own means. In more remote areas, or in developing countries, transport may have to be provided by the electoral management body. Voting can be held on site over one or more days. It can also be held by mail. The person can vote directly or in some elections by proxy (authorizing another person to vote on his or her behalf), using a paper or electronic machine. It can also be held by mail, or by email (online voting is more commonly used in non-governmental elections than in governmental elections). Some elections employ a combination of these methods. On site, in-person voting using paper ballot is the most common voting method in governmental elections. In non-governmental elections, mail-in and online voting is also common. Unlike in governmental elections, when conducted in person, non-governmental elections are often held as a part of a larger organizational event consisting of multiple electoral cycle components. Counting can take place immediately after the polls are closed or in centralized location(s) following the vote. (8) Observation International IDEA defines electoral observation as “the purposeful gathering of information regarding an electoral process and the making of informed judgments about the process on the basis of the information collected by persons who are not inherently authorized to intervene in the process.” Observation is usually undertaken to provide legitimacy to an electoral process, but other actors might be interested in the confidence-building impact, or in the deterrence of potential fraud, or in the sharing of experiences. Observation of an election is usually conducted by external groups to the organization and mostly, although not exclusively, focused on electoral period. Nevertheless, election observation can also cover the pre-electoral period, especially to observe the voter registration and candidate campaign periods, and the post-electoral period to observe count tabulation, recounts, or reviews. In addition to non-partisan observation by groups not supporting any of the candidates, candidates and parties will often rely on their own representatives referred to as party or candidate agents, or party scrutineers/scrutinizers to observe an election. In governmental elections in transitional democracies, the term ‘observation’ and ‘observers’ tends to be reserved for non-partisan groups and individuals and political party or candidate ‘agents’ is used instead. For more on election observation, see lesson on norms and standards (lesson 2). Elections for public offices are often observed by non-partisan groups composed of international experts or domestic civil society activists, as well as by party or candidate representatives. In non-governmental elections, candidates also use representatives for scrutiny of the votes, but non-partisan observation appears to be less common. If deemed necessary by the participants, creative solutions might be found such as inviting observers from other like-minded nongovernmental organizations to observe. For example, leaders of one professional association might observe elections of another professional association. Also, just as some public sector 10

EMBs are engaged in administering non-governmental elections, professional observation groups may be interested in observing certain non-governmental elections. (9) Complaints To ensure integrity and acceptance, electoral outcomes are typically subject to challenge if contestants believe that error has been made or violations have occurred which may have altered the outcome. The electoral rules in governmental elections typically describe the complaints and challenge criteria including the adjudication authority and its mandate; types of complaints that can be filed; timing for filing and adjudication; and eligibility to be the source of a complaint. The rules usually describe the challenge procedure and documentation required for submission. Complaints about the electoral process can be pursued by voters and political contestants. They usually concern such issues as eligibility, disenfranchisement, campaign practices, irregularities, and disputed outcomes among others. In a governmental election, the mechanisms and capacities must be in place to accommodate and resolve such civil disputes. Electoral dispute adjudication mechanisms can be national or international in nature. If no formal complaints process is described in the legislation, the outcomes and other electoral matters can be challenged in the courts. If no legal recourse is available, election outcomes can be challenged using the media and public pressure. Aggrieved parties may also feel compelled to reach outside of peaceful protocols in the search for electoral justice. Allegations of fraud and incidents of election-related violence can raise doubts about the integrity of those results, undermine both the results and the legitimacy of winners. In worse case scenarios, they can also lead to serious electoral violence. Governmental and non-governmental elections in transitional democracies are particularly susceptible to such outcomes and tend to be different from those in well-established democracies. The structures and forms which satisfactorily govern elections in many places are backed by real and accepted authority. They are applied vigorously, neutrally, and effectively. A high degree of trust exists in the election process and between the participants. In contrast, in transitional democracies, there is deep mutual distrust and partisanship on all sides; the idea of adhering to the laws and regulations may have little meaning or value to participants; the rule of force may predominate over the rule of law; and winning by any means may be the objective. As a result, elections in transitional democracies often represent sheer struggle for power rather than a well-established and agreed system for determining who is elected. Following are two case studies, one of a governmental election in a transitional democracy and another of a non-governmental election in a well-established democracy. In both cases, complaints process was used to challenge the results of the election. In the case of the governmental election, a complaints mechanism was established specifically for the election, whereas in the case of non-governmental election, the court received the complaints directly and ordered the election repeated. Case Study I: Sikh Temple Elections in Canada Challenged in Court 11

In January 2012, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, ordered the repeat of the election for the Sikh Guru Nanak Temple leadership held in November 2011. The two main blocs, the incumbent moderate and the opposing traditionalist bloc, participated in the election. Following the complaint directly to the Court by the losing moderate bloc, the Court reviewed the signatures on the winning bloc’s nomination forms. According to an article published in the local newspaper “A total of 18 candidates were nominated by 74 people. Twenty-five members can nominate all of the candidates, but their name, address, postal code, membership, signature (have to be valid). ... They forged signatures. Some people got together and signed for everybody.”7 After hearing the testimony of several members who admitted not signing the forms, the Court agreed that at least some signatures on the candidate nomination forms were forged and ordered that the election be repeated. In the repeated election held in March 2012, the same bloc won the election as in November 2011. Nevertheless, the existence of a legal mechanism to challenge the result helped increase the integrity of the election. Case Study II: Complaints in 1998 Elections in Cambodia In Cambodia's case, the formal mechanisms and procedures for resolving election disputes were basically well designed, but took relatively little account of the fact that this was still very much a transitional election with dynamics quite different from those in established democracies. The election, run by Cambodians in 1998, proved to be another transitional election in many respects. Democracy had not yet been firmly implanted. The election was conducted with a technical proficiency which drew wide praise from international and domestic observers, while at the same time, the Cambodian government and CPP (incumbent party) were criticized for violence and intimidation affecting the election process. If election day was a moment of triumph, it was soon followed by disaster. Insisting that their numerous complaints about the voting, counting, and results had been unfairly dismissed by the election authorities, and the opposition parties rejected the announced results and launched weeks of protest demonstrations, which were met by force from the authorities. Civil discord persisted for months, until the main opposition agreed to form a new coalition government with the CPP. The 1998 elections nevertheless remained tarnished by post-election violence in question because of the post-election violence and lingering suspicions about the validity of the dispute resolution process. The dispute resolution mechanisms in place did not anticipate the magnitude of the conflicts that would arise nor how crucial they would prove. Accordingly, insufficient attention was devoted to preparing in advance for the dispute resolution phase of the elections. 7

Email with Ron Laufer, Election Consultant, March 12, and www.shesikhnet.com


But even an administratively improved dispute resolution system would not have been enough in itself to ensure an orderly and accepted outcome of the process. Institutional weaknesses, an allor-nothing style of politics, and participant attitudes inconsistent with the spirit of democratic elections would still have made an orderly outcome uncertain. Only the most sensitive and statesmanlike actions by the NEC and Constitutional Council or greater restraint by the political parties might have saved the Cambodian elections from its bloodstained and ignominious conclusion, but in the heat of crisis, these were not forthcoming. Post-election dispute resolution had proved to be the most critical phase of the entire election. Unfortunately, it was the phase for which all sides were least prepared, organizationally and politically.8 With complaints and challenges satisfied, the certification process and authority are also typically described in the legal framework. 4. Key Elements during the Post-Electoral Period (10) Results Electoral votes are usually counted in polling locations or during the immediate electoral period, i.e. on election day, but in non-governmental elections where voting is often conducted online, by mail, or using other modalities votes are usually counted when all ballots are received/delivered to a counting location or locations, usually after a cut-off date, or using an automated system in online voting. Even in cases where votes are counted in the polling locations, results are collated or tabulated following the count. Collation of results can sometimes take time to complete and the process is generally observed. Once all the results are tabulated, they still need to be validated and certified. The final steps in electoral administration involve validation of the results, adjudicating any challenges, and the certification of winning candidates. This validation can be accomplished through election monitoring reports, recounts, and independent audits. Validation includes adjudicating any disputes over election results. The adjudicative authorities and the reach of its decision-making power should be defined in the legal framework. With the results validated and claims adjudicated, the EMB can certify the election results. (11) Review The review of an election can include the results or any other parts or aspects of elections following the election. Review can be conducted internally by the organization or body conducting elections, or externally by a third party.

Election Functions and Components: Other Sources


Adjusted for the course from the ACE Project http://aceproject.org/main/english/ei/eiy_kh01.htm


There are other ways of breaking electoral cycle and election functions into components. Talking about election administration in countries transitioning to democracy, Robert Pastor describes the following three stages and functions within each: A. Pre-Election Stage (1) Designing a system to appoint registration and election officials and then training them; (2) Delineation of the boundaries of voting areas; (3) Designing a voter registration system, establishing voting sites, and notifying the voters; (4) Registering voters on-site or at home and aggregating a voters’ list at the national and local levels; (5) Publishing and distributing a preliminary list to allow voters and parties an opportunity to review and correct the list, adding, deleting or modifying data or the voting sites; (6) Collecting information on voters and processing the data into voter identification cards; (7) Finalizing the registration list and sending copies to the regions and to the voting sites; (8) Distributing voter identification cards (sometimes at the same place as registration and voting) and assuring that they are received by the right people; (9) Registering and qualifying political parties and candidates; (10) Establishing and enforcing rules on campaigning, access to the media, and financing; (11) Ensuring security of the voters, the candidates, and the polling stations; (12) Developing rules for the proper observation of elections by domestic and international monitors and giving credentials to them; (13) Production of election materials; printing and securing the ballot; delivery of the election materials to designated sites; B. Election Day (14) Polling officials should set up their booth and verify receipt of the materials in the presence of monitors before the polling officially begins; (15) Polling officials should open the ballot boxes in the presence of voters, then close, and seal them, and begin the voting; (16) Polling officials should certify that voters are on the registration list and that they vote privately and in accordance with the procedures (often including dipping one’s finger in ink to preclude multiple voting); (17) Election officials should monitor the voting of all sites during the day and have quickreaction teams ready to distribute election materials and resolve problems during the day; (18) Ballots should be counted in the open, preferably at each site and in the presence of monitors from all major political parties or the public; other procedures for identifying, counting, and organizing blank or invalid ballots should be followed; (19) Tally sheet should be jointly signed by all the poll-watchers, and results should be delivered to sub-regional offices and the national election commission as expeditiously as possible; (20) At the national election commission, results should be announced as they arrive, but precautions are needed to avoid double-counting: C. Post-Election Verification and Dispute Settlement (21) Electoral Tribunal or appropriate body should investigate and adjudicate complaints; (22) Electoral Commission, or designated body, should verify the final count and certify the final results 14

In established democracies, the U.S. Federal Election Commission lists eight functions in order to have an election: (1) Precinct definition (2) Certification of qualifications (3) Voter registration (4) Campaign finance and control (5) Voter information (6) Balloting (7) Tabulation (8) Certification of results9 The following non-governmental election elements and functions have been extrapolated from a Guide for U.S. Labor Elections: (1) Getting Ready which includes determining election responsibilities, reviewing materials from prior elections, meeting with current officers, scheduling the elections and preparing a detailed timeline. (2) Nominations which includes determining and announcing eligibility requirements, holding nomination meeting(s), accepting nominations, deciding on eligibility, meeting with candidates. (4) Candidate Eligibility Determination which includes deciding about who may run for office, meeting with candidates, candidate inspection of the membership list, etc. (6) Distributing Campaign Literature (7) Inspecting the Membership List (8) Union and Employer Funds which includes announcement and scrutiny about how funds are being used (9) Right to Vote (10) Election Notice (11) Ballot Preparation which includes a series of operational and logistical preparations necessary for the voting. (12) The Polling Place which includes preparation for the election day itself and description of the hours, locations and procedures for voting. (13) Observers (Observer Accreditation) which refers to the candidates’ right to have representatives and submit their names for accreditation/registration. (14) Counting Ballots (15) Election Protests10

Case studies above provide examples for different components of an election (for example, voter registration). The case study below represents a comprehensive list of election components in specific non-governmental election.


Election Administration, Vol. 1, Managing Elections, National Clearing House on Election Administration Conducting Local Union Officer Elections, A Guide of U.S. Election Officials, U.S. Dpt. of Labor, 2010



Case Study: Electoral Components in a University Election University Elections 2012 At Leiden University in the Netherlands, elections are held for both sections of the University Council, the student sections of the Faculty Boards and the Student Council of the LUMC. Election Schedule 5 March: reference date and deciding electoral registers 6 and 7 March: candidate nomination, inspection of electoral registers and submission of requests for improvement of electoral registers at relevant polling station 8 March: decisions by polling stations with respect to candidate nominations and requests for improvement of electoral registers (appeal possible on 12 and 13 March; decision regarding appeal 20 March 2012) 12 and 13 March: correcting oversights in candidate nominations 14 March: decision on polling stations regarding rectifying oversights in candidate nominations (appeal possible until 16 March; decision regarding appeal 20 March 2012) 9 May: sending out electronic summons; opening elections (09.00 hrs) 15 May: closing of the elections (16.00 hrs) 22 May: election results (appeal possible until 29 May; decision regarding appeal 1 June 2012) Who is entitled to vote? Anyone who has an employment contract with Leiden University in one of the units where the elections are held on 5 March 2012 (the reference date), as well as anyone – with the exception of external or guest students - who is enrolled on this date as a student. This group must therefore be included in the electoral registers. Student assistants exercise their right to vote in principle with regard to the student section. Other students employed by the University exercise their right to vote with regard to the staff section. Persons employed by NWO, FOM or other comparable organizations and working at the university are also entitled to vote; they are advised to check whether they have been included in the electoral registers during the inspection period. You can check whether you are included in the electoral registers by visiting the polling station on 6 or 7 March 2012 between 9am and 4pm; on these days you can also submit a request for improving the electoral registers. Candidate nomination If you are interested in playing an active role in co-participation, you can put yourself forward as a candidate on 6 and 7 March 2012. The relevant forms can be obtained from the polling stations and at www.stemmen.leidenuniv.nl The polling stations will announce their decisions regarding candidate nominations on 8 March 2012. If there are any oversights that can be corrected – such as the lack of a sufficient number of signatures from voters to support a candidate nomination – ample room to do so is provided in the above-mentioned schedule.


Appeal If you disagree with the decision of a polling station with respect to candidate nomination or the improvement of electoral registers, you may submit an appeal against the decision to the Chamber for Elections of the Committee for Objections and Appeals (Rapenburg 70 in Leiden). The above schedule also provides the opportunity to appeal against decisions regarding the correction of oversights in candidate nominations. Such appeals should be submitted to the Chamber for Elections. Internet voting Elections take place entirely by internet. In order to vote, you should use your ULCN account. You can use this account to log in to the election application from 9 May (09.00 hrs) onwards. You can vote until 15 May (16.00 hrs) at the latest. You can vote from any computer with an internet connection. Polling stations The elections are organized by different polling stations, see Overzicht stembureaus (in Dutch). For more information, please contact the Central Voting Office (Centraal StemBureau).11

Differences between Governmental and Non-Governmental Elections There are some notable differences between governmental and non-governmental elections when it comes to fundamental elements. Despite the fact that there are candidates or blocks in nongovernmental elections that are sometimes associated with or even members of political parties, the election is not among parties and so there are no political party associated functions in such elections. Certain types of non-governmental elections, especially student and labor union elections can be closely associated with political parties. Labor unions are traditionally associated with former communist parties. A more specific example includes the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions which has traditionally been associated with Fatah. Some NGO elections, especially in student organizations, can become highly partisan in ways that may reflect wider political divisions – again, Palestinian student elections are often seen as bellwethers for national political forces. Governmental elections are also typically larger in terms of the number of eligible voters and account for longer electoral cycles and larger logistics. The most common modality for conducting a governmental election is on-site or in-person vote at the polling station, while online, mail-in and on-site show of hands is more common in non-governmental elections. Governmental elections in transitional democracies are typically observed by both partisan (candidate representatives) and non-partisan groups (domestic civil society groups or international organizations) whereas non-governmental elections are typically observed by candidate representatives only.


Adjusted from the Leiden University website www.organisation.leiden.edu


Exercise/Task 1: Questions 1. What are the three electoral periods of an electoral cycle? 2. During which period does the voter registration usually take place? 3. What are the four levels of an electoral legal framework and what does each level generally define? 3. Describe some general eligibility requirements to be a voter in a governmental election? 4. Describe the most frequent requirement to be a voter in a non-governmental election? 5. What does it mean to tabulate an election result? How is tabulation different from counting? 6. Describe some criteria to determine whether election results should be certified or not.

Exercise/Task 2: Watch a Video Watch the following You Tube videos and answer the questions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jvuuxzLISg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h7v7KKVPB8&feature=related

1. Which electoral phase is under way as shown in the two videos? 2. Is the voting proceeding smoothly in both videos? 3. Think of a complaint one can lodge related to the election shown. 4. How might a non-governmental election differ in this phase from a non-governmental election? Exercise/Task 3: Watch the excerpt from an Oscar-nominated documentary “My Country My Country” about the 2005 election in Iraq http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD4IWBHKbWY Watch the movie “Recount” about the contested 2000 elections in Florida, U.S. If you cannot access the movie on the course website, please email [email protected] for a copy of the movie.


How many fundamental components of the elections described in this lesson can you identify in each movie? Can you name them? State if the following statement is true or false: 1. “Recount” describes an election in one of the oldest democracies and therefore the integrity of the election is guaranteed. 2. There were international observers present in the polling stations in the movie “Recount.” 3. In “My Country My Country”, the candidate considered his personal security and ethnic background factor in order to decide whether to run in the election. 4. Ethnic background is not a valid category to consider when deciding about election participation. 5. The elections described in the two movies are non-governmental elections.


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