By-election concludes weeks of preparation by independent election commission

Dec 9, 2014

PHOTO by Anas Jawed

On 29 November 2014, Men and Women of Irbid headed out of their homes to cast their ballots in a by-election for a vacant seat in the Lower House of Parliament. Late in the evening of the same day, the Board of Commissioners of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Jordan announced the official results and declared the winner.

Behind the long day, there have been weeks of preparations and exhaustive planning by the IEC to ensure transparency.

For any election, even for a by-election for only one seat; the IEC must perform countless activities within a short period of time to guarantee credibility of the election process. This includes preparing the voter list, producing voter cards, registering candidates, training hundreds of polling officials, informing voters about the process, designing and producing ballots, testing electronic data links, preparing the polling stations, distributing ballot boxes, setting up a results center and much more.  

For the by-election in Irbid, the IEC’s work did not end with the announcement of the results; two days after the IEC launched a process to draw lessons from the event through a series of focus groups with the numerous officials involved.

“By-elections are very useful “practice” for any election commission,” said Maarten Halff, UNDP chief technical adviser to the IEC. “On a smaller scale than a full national election, it allows an election commission to test its state of preparedness, engage with stakeholders, and see whether its training programmes have been effective. It can then identify areas of further improvement.”

In partnership with the European Union (EU), and with EU funding, UNDP is assisting the IEC in developing its capacity as a credible, independent institution. For the by-election in Irbid, the project provided extensive technical and other support to the IEC in all stages of the process, including through advice on the polling and counting procedures, engagement with stakeholders, and its public awareness strategy.

The project also supported the production of information materials to explain the process to voters. The current assistance project, which was launched in 2012, runs until early 2016.

 

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