Union Election Commission
July - September, 2013. Volume I, Issue 1
Greetings from the Chairman “I am happy to launch UEC’s Jirst newsletter highlighting some of our work in the past few months. We have been focused on the strategic planning process. We look forward to feedback from political parties and civil society organizations on our draft in the next few weeks. UEC is taking seriously criticisms and deJiciencies and we hope to address them in preparations for the 2015 elections which is only two years from now. We all have to work together to make these elections credible and inclusive.” Chairman U Tin Aye
Featured Events UEC drafting 5-‐Year Strategic Plan
Voter Registration Assessment conducted
The Union Election Commission began its strategic planning process in July 2013 and after consultation with political parties and civil society organizations and it will be publicly available on UEC’s forthcoming website in early 2014. The UEC formed a strategic planning committee of senior staff supported by a Member of the Strategic Planning Working Group working group and explaining the 8 Steps of the strategic planning cycle facilitated by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) with the goal of producing a Jive-‐year strategic plan over a six month period. The strategic plan will include vision, mission and guiding principles, with 12 detailed strategic goals and activities, work plans and budgets with clear responsibilities for each department, and a section to monitor the UEC’s performance in implementing the plan. This draft strategic plan has been shared with external stakeholders to gather written feedback in October and conduct face-‐to-‐face consultation in November. UEC will compile and consider all suggestions before Jinalizing the Strategic Plan due to be launched in January 2014.
Voter registration is a critical step in guaranteeing suffrage. The UEC undertook a full assessment of the voter registration system in partnership with IFES. This assessment included discussions with UEC headquarters and Jield staff, the Ministry of Immigration and Population, the General Assessment team talking to Ward/Village sub-commision Administration at Maha Aung Myay township, in Mandalay Department and a Jield visit to Mandalay to observe the registration process at the Jield level. IFES Voter Registration expert, Michael Yard, ran a two-‐day Voter Registration workshop in the UEC on international principles of voter registration, differences between census data and civil/voter registries, different types of registration, issues with advance voting and the use of technology for aggregating and migrating data. The recommendations from this assessment include: centralizing and computerizing the voters list at township level, state/ region and national level; building the capacity of the UEC, IT and Voter Registration departments; training UEC staff at township level on data entry; and creating cost effective and sustainable database for updating the voters list for elections in 2015 and future elections.
High Pro3ile visits Former US President Mr. Jimmy Carter, Mr. Martti Ahtisaari and Dr. Gro Harmlem Brundtland visit the UEC. The UEC chairman met members of the Elders at his office in Naypyitaw on September 25, including Mr. Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States; Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, and Nobel Peace Laureate; and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway,. They discussed the electoral system, participation of women and ethnic minorities in parliament, plans to invite international observers to elections here in 2015 and study tours in electoral processes of other countries.
Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of States, greets the Chairman In June, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, chairperson of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and US Ambassador Mr. Derek Mitchell met with the UEC Chairman and the commissioners to discuss the work processes of the commission to hold free and fair elections in 2015.
Sir Robert Cooper, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Sir Robert Cooper met with the UEC Chairman on July 23 and September 24, and discussed EU’s assistance to hold free and fair elections in the 2015 and sharing knowledge and experience on elections.
Workshops and Assessments Conducted Over the past months, the UEC collaborated with IFES on a number of assessments on Voter Registration, Information and Communication Technology and the Legal Framework. UEC also held workshops on External Relations and Gender & Elections.
UEC’s legal working group sharing insights for reviewing regulations in the legal framework
The UEC formed a Legal Working Group to review priority issues with IFES Legal Expert David Ennis during workshops at the UEC Training Center on September 4 and 5. Items discussed included international obligations; the difference between regulations, laws and constitutional amendments; and ten key areas identiJied by IFES for improvement. The UEC participants included several commissioners who offered insight into achievable changes prior to the 2015 election, which would include clariJication on political party Jinance, reviewing advance voting procedures to have more transparency, more awareness about electoral dispute resolution as well as improving election day procedures in terms of integrity measures, such as seals on ballot boxes, inking voters’ Jingers to prevent double voting and posting results at the polling station to increase transparency. In addition, issues regarding gender equality and accessibility for persons with disabilities were considered.
UEC staff brainstorming Public Relations strategies in preparation for upcoming elections
Communications expert Marguerite Sullivan from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) conducted the External Relations and Communications workshop for UEC’s senior ofJicials and the future team of UEC External Relations department. She shared her global knowledge and experience from her work at the State department, international organizations and as a journalist. The workshop covered developing contact lists and fact sheets, drafting press releases and roleplaying a press conference. The UEC is currently in the Jinal stages of developing its website in Myanmar and English for launch in January 2014. The website will present news and update of UEC activities, highlight meetings with stakeholders and publish electoral laws, results and the Strategic Plan. This UEC Newsletter is the Jirst product of the External Relations department and will be available in print and soon online with the launch of UEC’s website. The next quarterly issue will cover October to December 2013.
Assessing UEC’s ICT Capacity
UEC’s newly formed IT department discussing their needs in upgrading UEC’s IT infrastructure
An ICT assessment of the UEC was conducted from July 1 to 5 to gauge the baseline of current IT infrastructure and make recommendations for modernization in preparation for the 2015 elections. To facilitate the assessment, the UEC identiJied its most skilled IT staff and through a series of discussions with IFES Election IT Expert Michael Burke they reviewed different aspects of election IT management. This review included: election and organizational IT projects, management and capacity concerns, basic system architecture and support, and the technologies and tools an IT department must rely on to develop resilient, sustainable election systems. Since this assessment, the UEC has established its own IT department which has been working on a strategy to modernize and upgrade UEC’s ICT infrastructure and build capacity to have more effective internal and external communication. Further down the road, UEC aims to develop applications for voter registration, registering parties and candidates, accrediting observers, tracking complaints and managing results.
EU conducts Regional Training with UEC The European Union Electoral Support Team (EUEST), Xavier Noc and Ruth Meyer, together with a team of UEC trainers, have continued to conduct two-‐day workshops for UEC staff in the region and state capitals. Topics include an understanding of the necessity for credibility in elections, the development of some principles of electoral administration, and the application of those principles to working with stakeholders such as voters, observers, media and marginalized groups. So far the team has conducted workshops in Mandalay, Naypyitaw, Kachin, with workshops being planned for Sagaing, Kayah, Rakhine, Kayin, Tanintharyi, Mon and Shan during October and November and for other states and regions in December.
Electoral Systems Design International IDEA Director of Asia-‐Pacific, Andrew Ellis presented to the UEC the publication "Electoral Systems Design Overview" translated into Myanmar language and was used subsequently for seminars on the topic; learning more about majoritarian, proportional and mixed systems. Participants from political parties, CSOs and media attended the seminars from July 16 to 18, which were organized by Myanmar Multi Party Democracy Programme with Tom Cormier (IDEA) and Paul Guerin (IFES) as guest speakers. The publication can be downloaded for free at: http://www.idea.int/publications/esd/bu.cfm
UEC Spotlight Dr. Daw Myint Kyi, the only women among six UEC commissioners, was a Professor in the Department of International Relations, Yangon University. She was also President of the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation. In the UEC, she is currently chairing the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) and has worked with women’s civil society organizations to mainstream gender in the UEC’s forthcoming strategic plan. Commissioner Dr. Daw Myint Kyi
UEC Training Center established
Training Center can host up to 30 participants for group activity based workshops
The UEC Chairman envisioned training as a key component of UEC’s work in preparing for elections. With assistance from IFES and USAID, a large room in the UEC building was transformed into a fully functional training center -‐ equipped with furniture, air-‐conditioning, audio visual teaching and learning aids, and resource materials. The new Training Center was launched on May 29, 2013 with the “Voter Registration Assessment Workshop,” attended by the newly appointed ofJicers and heads of the region/state sub commissions. In only three months, six workshops have been held on various topics with different participants. Its doors are hardly closed, and it has acted as a catalyst for learning and sharing experiences between UEC staff and CSOs. The Training Center also houses a small library and space for online research and an ofJice for the new Training department to be established.
Making UEC’s Training Methodology more Participatory In an effort to improve methodology for upcoming cascade training and voter education outreach, the UEC hosted the Jirst Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) Train-‐the-‐Facilitator workshop in Myanmar from July 22 to August 3, 2013. Uniquely, this workshop was facilitated by both co-‐ founders of BRIDGE, Ross Attrill and Paul Guerin. To encourage gender and
Women teachers from different ethnic communities from around the country learned interactive training methodology and participatory learning techniques in a Train-the-Facilitator course
diversity, participants included a female teacher from each region and state who speaks an ethnic language of that state, seconded from the Ministry of Education; a representative from the Myanmar Independent Living Institute, a disability rights organization; and six national UEC staff who will form the basis of the new Training and Voter Education Departments.After the training, participants were ready to apply techniques they had learned in the BRIDGE workshop during training for the UEC, as well as in their classrooms. “This experience was very meaningful for me,” said Sai Kyaw Thu, a participant from the UEC. “This training motivated me to be able to speak out and share everything I
learned to others. It was a valuable training.” said Nang Chan Myae Thu, a teacher from Pa Oh community. This train the facilitator workshop established a gender-‐balanced and regionally-‐diverse core group of facilitators to assist the UEC with regional voter education and training. The UEC Chairman U Tin Aye closed the workshop with the following remarks, “There are many changes in politics, economics and peace building in Myanmar. In this political transition process, we are still trying to be a strong democratized country. The election is one of the inevitable steps for this democratization process.”. These participants received BRIDGE certiJicates and the ceremony was covered by Myanmar State Television. The training was facilitated by IFES and funded USAID.
UEC Promotes the Participation of Women in the Electoral Process Inclusion of women in the political and electoral process is critical in transitional democracies but needs strategies and concrete actions to improve equality. From September 17-‐19, the UEC hosted a Gender and Elections BRIDGE workshop facilitated by an inclusion specialist, Yvonne Goudie to encourage the inclusion of women in all aspects of the electoral process. Participants included 18 representatives of civil society organizations and 9 representatives of the Union Election Commission (UEC). CSO representatives worked directly to develop strategies for increasing women’s participation with UEC staff during the Gender and Elections BRIDGE module. During the 3-‐day module, participants discussed barriers to women’s participation and created an electoral cycle
Women’s Organizations and UEC staff working together on strategies for promoting women’s participation in elections
through a gender lens. SpeciJic priority issues identiJied included inclusion of women in the voter registration process, increasing voter education targeting women, and increasing the role of women in political parties and the UEC. The participants developed strategies for the UEC and CSOs to address different groups of Myanmar women, including ethnic, rural, young, internally displaced women and women with disabilities. Other strategies suggested increasing the number of women candidates and the potential use of temporary special measures or quotas. “I immediately shared the knowledge I got from this training to members of my organization as soon as I arrived back to Yangon.”, said Mar Ching Pui I, Women Organization Network. Meredith Applegate and Aye Yu Thwe from IFES co-‐facilitated and became accredited BRIDGE facilitators
Participants looking at the Electoral Cycle through gender lens and highlighting strategies to overcome barriers
Lessons Learned from the Regions Australia UEC Commissioners U Myint Naing and U Win Ko went to Australia as part of Australian Election Commission’s Visitors’ Program supported by AusAID from September 3-‐10 to see the latest parliamentary elections. They were inspired by the trust that the Australian Election Commission and the election itself had been awarded by their citizens. “I like the idea of distributing two different colored ballots at the same time, one for House of Representatives and one for the Senate. It saves time, costs and is more efJicient. I will try to use the same approach for our future elections. It is feasible and relevant for our country’s context too,” said U Win Ko. Fourteen Sub-‐Commissioners, one from each state or region were also part of this Visitors’ Program in Queensland and returned with many new ideas.
Cambodia UEC Chairman U Tin Aye, accompanied by Yangon Sub-‐Commissioner U Tin Htay visited Cambodia to study their elections from July 26 -‐ 28. The Chair noted that when the ballots were counted, the results were written up on a board. Local observer groups complained that the National Election Commission of Cambodia made the accreditation process difJicult.
Pakistan “I learned that inclusiveness and participation by all the stakeholders is crucial to hold the credible, free and fair elections”, says U Tin Tun, Director General of the UEC who joined the EU-‐supported delegation to observe elections in Pakistan from May 6-‐15. UEC Commissioner U Myint Naing and Deputy Director Dr. Tun Tun Oo also joined the tour and commented it was a great experience to study elections in a country like Pakistan and they learned a lot. The UEC also noted the use of numbered plastic seals on ballot boxes as an integrity measure, the use of the media center to announce results speedily and transparently and how international observers conduct press conferences immediately after the elections. UEC delegation observing the polling station in action at a district in Pakistan
Philippines UEC Commissioners U Aung Myint and U Nyunt Tin along with two representatives from civil society organizations, Nay Lin Soe from the Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI) and Myo Zaw Aung from the Innovative Academy, accompanied by IFES Country Director Paul Guerin, travelled to the Philippines from October 22-‐27 for an election study tour supported by USAID. They met with election ofJicials and representatives of civil society and focused on substantive lessons on key areas that Myanmar and the Philippines are commonly addressing in their respective countries, including: legal framework and the structure of the election commission; enforcing campaign Jinance law; improving voter registration; the pros and cons of automated counting and results; challenges to implementing a strategic plan; innovative public information and voter education strategies; conducting a gender audit of the elections; and addressing issues of accessibility for persons with disabilities; and the importance of the relationship between CSOs and the election commission.
UEC and CSO delegates met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines as part of their Electoral Study Tour
Upcoming events to be covered in the next issue: • Disability and Elections Workshop October 9 -‐ 10, 2013, UEC Training Center, Nay Pyi Taw with Disability Persons Organizations and UEC staff • Global Elections Organization (GEO) Conference and launching of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) October 14 -‐ 17, 2013 Seoul, Republic of Korea, UEC Chairman and Director General representing Myanmar among a peer network of electoral management bodies from around the world • Face-to-face Consultation of the draft Strategic Plan with key stakeholders November 21-‐22, 2013, Yangon with UEC Strategic Planning Committee, CSOs and Political Parties • Elections observation in Nepal November 19, 2013, UEC Commissioner, The Carter Center • Workshop on Political Finance November 26, 2013 with UEC at UEC Training Center, Nay Pyi Taw, November 28-‐30, Yangon with CSOs and Political Parties • Regional Training of UEC Sub Commissions completed December, 2013 Please contact UEC External Relations Department for any inquiries or information: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (95) 67 404404 Fax: (95) 67 404405
Copyright 2013 © All Rights Reserved. Published by the Union Election Commission, Myanmar.