IC Conference
ter nformation, ommunication & ducation work

Global Knowledge Network On Voter Education - learning from each other

Promoting Inclusive and Participative Elections

With presence in more than 170 countries, the UNDP helps governance institutions in countries bring constitutional reforms, organize credible elections, strengthen parliaments, and address policy and institutional options for peace, risk-reduction and development through reconciliation, empowerment and inclusion. Through its programmes, UNDP brings people together within nations and around the world for, fostering partnerships and sharing ways to promote participation, accountability and effectiveness at all levels. It also offers strategic assistance throughout the electoral cycle, from support in designing more effective systems, to mechanisms to address disputes after the votes are counted.

It aims to ensure that elections are credible and fully owned nationally; increase awareness of the role of elections as part of a broader democratic governance framework and as a vital means to safeguard human rights, exercise choice and express opinions. The objective is to support democratic systems to become more inclusive and accountable, and to be able to meet expectations for participation, services and security during election processes. For example, in during 2014, UNDP programmes strengthened electoral processes around the world and helped register 18 million new voters and in 2013 it provided electoral assistance to 68 countries in Africa, the Arab States, Asia Pacific, Latina America and the Caribbean and Europe and the CIS region.

In India, under the aegis of South-South Cooperation, UNDP has been partnering with the Election Commission of India since 2011 to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the field of election management and administration with other developing countries. UNDP has been privileged to support the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management which is emerging as a knowledge resource institution facilitating capacity building of the Election Management Bodies to acquire the necessary skills to organize elections that enjoy the confidence of electoral stakeholders and playing a leading role in promoting participatory democracy and election administration world-wide.

The Election Commission of India’s experience in conducting the largest democratic elections is unparalleled in the world and is well known globally for more than 60 years. The nationwide general elections held in 2014 saw over 554 million people vote across the country. The Election Commission of India also manages State Assembly elections for 29 states and 7 Union Territories every 5 years.

The inclusion and participation of youth, women, traditionally marginalized groups, minorities and indigenous peoples into election processes are important tools to strengthen the democratic processes. The ECI’s ‘Ssustained and Ssystematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation’ strategy to increase people’s participation in the electoral process has evolved with every election and use of innovative practices have resulted in substantial increase in the participation of voters, especially women and youth. ECI has made concerted efforts to foster democratic dialogue, engagement and participation with civil society, political parties, women’s and youth groups as well as learning among the Election Management Bodies of other countries.

Innovation in the electoral cycle is something that EMBs have the responsibility to lead on and deliver faster and more efficient, safer, credible and inclusive elections to their societies. Election Commission of India is known for its successes in use of technology in election management. The electoral process needs as much affordable and effective technology as will make participation easier, particularly for youth who like technology and are fast learners.

The launch of the VOICE.NET knowledge network moderated by ECI is yet another innovative approach to share good practices in election management with election management bodies across the world. It will serve as an important platform to foster democratic values and to develop capacities of election staff and election management bodies, particularly in emerging democracies.

NewsLetter Delegates being briefed on the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Delegation from Bhutan, Kenya, Myanmar, Uganda along with nine other countries from the League of Arab States, visited Shimla (Himachal Pradesh, India) to witness the election management process. UNDP and the Election Commission of India supported 20 countries in learning from India’s experience in managing elections during 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/ UNDP India/ 2014
NewsLetter Polling agents along with polling officers conduct and witness mock polling at a poll booth in Agra (Uttar Pradesh, India). International delegations from Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria and Malaysia witnessed mock polling and the polling process on election day during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Sumeeta Banerji
Assistant Country Director & Head (Democratic Governance)
United Nations Development Programme