Creative & OAS partner to boost electoral monitoring

By Jillian Slutzker

March 30, 2015

Creative and the Organization of American States signed an agreement to develop handbooks and training to identify and eventually mitigate electoral threats, violence and malpractice, it was announced March 25.

Speaking at the signing ceremony on March 25, Creative President Leland Kruvant praised the partnership as another significant step toward ensuring electoral integrity and promoting good governance for Organization of American States member countries.

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Creative President Leland Kruvant and OAS Director of the Dept. of Electoral Cooperation and Observation Gerardo de Icaza sign an agreement to boost electoral monitoring in OAS member states.

“It is an honor for Creative Associates to be a part of this important project and apply our electoral expertise to develop training curriculum to allow OAS delegations to better assess the impact of violence, malpractice and fraud on election outcomes among OAS member states,” Kruvant said.

At the partnership signing ceremony, Kruvant emphasized the importance of safeguarding elections from violence and malpractice as part of a larger mission to ensure democratic governance and meaningful citizen engagement.

Creative’s Director of Electoral Education and Integrity, Jeffrey Carlson, echoed Kruvant’s comments and stressed the importance of these new materials.

“The resulting handbooks will provide important guidance to those conducting electoral observations and to those implementing subsequent recommendations in the OAS region and beyond throughout the electoral cycle,” says Carlson.

Creative will support OAS Electoral Observer Mission teams in developing the Handbooks on Electoral Violence Observation and Malpractice Observation, which will contain integrated qualitative and quantitative indicators for assessing threats to electoral integrity, including electoral violence and malpractice.

Information gathered through these tools will better equip the OAS in making recommendations to countries whose elections it observes, says Creative’s Senior Electoral Advisor Jeff Fischer.

“This methodology will include a vulnerabilities assessment in order to identify structural, procedural or behavioral weak links in electoral integrity so that the consequences of these vulnerabilities can be flagged for scrutiny,” says Fischer.

Fischer says the methodology will help overcome challenges to identifying and tracking electoral malpractice, which is often harder to detect than electoral violence.

“While electoral violence can be monitored in real-time, that is incidents are reported when they are observed, electoral malpractice may not be obvious on the surface. Its perpetration can occur early in the electoral cycle, for example during voter registration,” says Fischer.  “As a result, the consequences of fraudulent registration are seen on Election Day, but the original crime took place months before.”

In 2014, the OAS deployed nine electoral observation missions throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. In the first three months of this year, the organization has already deployed electoral observation missions to St. Kitts and Nevis, El Salvador and Bolivia.

Electoral security expertise

Having conducted electoral security assessments in environments as diverse and challenging as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Colombia, Guatemala, the Philippines, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Creative’s Elections team has experience developing practical and accurate electoral monitoring and security frameworks.

Creative staff has also engaged in two internationally supervised electoral audits in Afghanistan and Haiti.

In partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the team, led by Fischer, published two handbooks on Best Practices in Electoral Security and an Electoral Security Framework.

These handbooks lay out approaches to identifying risk factors for electoral violence, and designing and implementing strategies to prevent, mitigate and mediate it when it does occur. Creative’s Elections team will draw on these best practices in its support to the OAS electoral violence observation methodology.

The methodology will also employ features of Creative’s “Monitoring and Observation for Violence in Elections” (MOVE) template and incorporate insights from the global survey of experts in the development of the Primer on Electoral Malpractice.

The Primer was created in collaboration with Sarah Birch, Ph.D., of the University of Glasgow, the developer of the Index of Electoral Malpractice

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