ECES trainings on the steps of the electoral cycle are designed as a planning, programming and operational tools around the common understanding that elections are not a one-day event but a complex long-term process involving numerous interdependent phases and activities.
The Introduction of the Electoral Cycle Approach
The contemporary shift towards a longer- term vision of electoral support addressed criticisms of the Election Day centric approach that for long dominated the field and gave rise to short term and ad hoc support. In hindsight, many internationally assisted elections adopting this event-based approach led to unsustainable processes and unachievable expectations. In this context, the Electoral Cycle Approach emerged as the methodology of reference in 2006.
This approach was developed by electoral specialists as a collaborative effort to bring theory closer to reality in electoral process. Drawing on extensive field experience from the European Commission and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) the electoral cycle approach was crafted as a response to the lack of a coherent methodology for electoral assistance programming. All interventions that set out to support the consolidation of democracies effectively take place during the pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral phases in a given country.
The electoral cycle approach was therefore desiigned in 2006 by ECES co-founder and Executive Director, Fabio Bargiacchi (back then at the Euroopean Commission) Paul Guerin, Domenico Tuccinardi, Antonio Spinelli and Thereda Lanela of International IDEA. The Electoral Cycle approach was then explained in detail in October 2006 in the EC Methodological Guide on Electoral Assistance, in the IDEA Handbook on Electoral Management Design (December 2006) and later on also in the UNDP Implementation Guide on Electoral Assistance (November 2007).
The strategy of ECES, called the European Response on Electoral Cycle Support, EURECS, is actually based on the electoral cycle approach updated and carried out by a European not-for-profit foundation following EU rules and EU values while implementing electoral assistance projects funded by the EU and its Member States in favour of the beneficiaries' countries of their development cooperation.
Steps of the Electoral Cycle: a closer look
In this context, the training sessions of ECES encompass all steps of the electoral cycle, including the pre-electoral period, the electoral period and the post-electoral one. They target to all different electoral stakeholders such as: electoral management bodies, civil society organisations, media, security forces, political parties, donors and justice sector institutions dealing with electoral dispute resolutions.
It does so by covering the key aspects of each period for each stakeholders, including:
- Review of the Electoral Framework
- Code of Conducts and electoral law directives
- Delimitation of electoral boundaries
- Budgeting and costs of elections
- Logistical, operational, recruitment and procurement plans
- Security of elections
- Civic and Voter Education
- Training for polling staff
- Institutional Communication and Media Monitoring for EMBs and CSOs
- Media Access and Media Coverage including code of conduct and electoral campaigne
- Voter and Candidates Registration including out of country
- Preventing, Mitigating and Managing Electoral Conflicts and Violence including Conflict Mapping
- Domestic Electoral Observation including accreditation and parallel vote tabulation
- E-day operations and vote counting
- Results transmission, aggregation and proclamation
- Electoral disputes resolution mechanisms
- Evaluation and audit of electoral processes including voter registration accuracy
- Post electoral review
- Archiving and Research