The election cycle is a conundrum for most external stakeholders.
However, there are those internal champions (such as Election management bodies, polling station staff, and election technology providers) that keep performing successfully, regardless of the complexity, scale, location, time frame or budget of challenging election projects.
How do they do it? Having clear goals, a customised strategy, an experienced and skilful project management team, and a proven useful, flexible, collaborative and secure service model.
Managing an election technology implementation project can be better understood following 13 critical steps across the election cycle of pre-election, election and post-election stages. However, be ready to ask the right questions to all stakeholders involved in each process!
- Legal framework analysis. What law (and body of statutory instruments) rules over the elections? What standards, limits and procedures regulate the process (are they up-to-date)? Who are the election authorities (EMB)? Do all stakeholders fully understand and take on the law?
- Polling location management. How do EMBs identify, register and assess the existing polling locations? Is there analysis on the impact of demographics and geography to maximise voter turnout? How easy is for voters to get to polling stations?
- Voter management. Is the current voter database accurate? How can EMBs register voters in a secure, simple, fast and reliable way? What are the best options to update information and remove duplicate entries? How do you build trust and engagement?
- Staff management. How do EMBs screen, recruit and train election projects’ staff? Who handles sensitive material to serve voters and provides critical support nationally and locally? Who manages and coordinates the election staff prior, during and after Election Day?
- Observer accreditation. Is the election process auditable -at every stage- by external observers? How can EMBs find these people, vet and register them? What organisations engage with election observation in your project (political parties, independent and unaffiliated observers, international missions)?
- Candidate management. What are the best and easier ways to manage the information and compliance regulations for registering political parties and candidates in an election? How do EMBs make candidate administration more transparent and more efficient?
- Campaign monitoring. What are the best policies and frameworks to control political campaigns expenditure? What are the laws overseeing fairness and equality during the campaign? Who (when and how) will make sure that all participants are complying with the regulations?
- Ballot production. How do voters cast their vote in your election? Are your voting ballots electronic or do you still use paper ones? Who does define, design, generate and distribute the customised information on your ballots?
- Training. It is a relevant and sensitive task, as everyone involved in the election management training represent a pivotal piece to success (or failure). Which stakeholders are the most critical training beneficiaries (polling station staff, IT teams, voters)? How do you make sure they know how the election technology works and have all the support they need?
- Logistics. Who is accountable for the election material (physical components) production and quality control? How does it work the material delivery to polling locations (distribution)?
- Under what system do citizens cast their votes? Do they use electronic, manual, online or multi-channel voting? How do EMBs guarantee the vote is free, secret, equal and universal? Is there an evaluation of how convenience, security and auditability might impact voter turnout in your elections?
- Consolidation. How are the vote counts from different polling stations added to calculate election results? What are the benefits of election technology services for consolidation (speed, accuracy, security, transparency)? How do EMBs determine and then proclaim the winners? What are the steps to follow for dealing with complaints?
- Wrap-up. Election management projects have a crucial stage of evaluation, learning and documenting after Election Day is over. How did the election go? What did we learn that can be useful for future projects? Who stores all the election data securely?
Finally, to effectively walked through this road to election management success, remember that the most critical issue during the complete cycle is making sure that all stakeholders feel included, engaged, and accountable for their participation in the election process.