The Commonwealth today launched its first training event for junior election professionals in New Delhi, India.
The six-day programme, attended by election professionals from 23 national election management bodies from across the Commonwealth, will examine the role of technology in elections – particularly as it relates to voter education, voter registration and election day operations.
The first event of the Junior Election Professionals (JEP) initiative is co-hosted by the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) and the Election Commission of India. It is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Participants will examine how technology can contribute to more inclusive, transparent and credible elections across the Commonwealth.
In a statement delivered on his behalf at the inaugural session, Commonwealth Secretariat Director of Political Affairs Amitav Banerji said: "This initiative is a tangible illustration of how important well-managed and credible elections are to the Commonwealth, which has democracy as one of its core values.”
The statement went on to say: “The Secretariat extends its warm appreciation to the IIIDEM, the Election Commission of India and AusAID for their support to this important initiative.”
The inaugural training session was also addressed by the Chief Election Commissioner of India, V.S. Sampath, and Bernard Philip, Australian Deputy High Commissioner to India.
A number of JEP training events will be held in different Commonwealth regions before June 2015. Commonwealth Connects, an online collaboration tool, will be used as a hub for peer-to-peer networking and support.
The JEP initiative is part of a range of activities of the Commonwealth Electoral Network (CEN). The initiative aims to increase the technical capacity of junior election professionals as well as their understanding of international election standards.
The CEN was launched in 2010 with the aim of promoting best practices among Commonwealth election management bodies. Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has been a strong advocate of the Network and has spoken of it aspiring to establish a “gold standard” of election management for the Commonwealth.