Commonwealth Electoral Network members yesterday concluded their two-day meeting in Toronto, Canada, with renewed commitment to strengthen electoral processes across the Commonwealth through collaboration, support and knowledge-sharing.
Around 60 delegates attended the conference, which saw the launch of the first Commonwealth ‘Connects’ online workspace which will allow members to continue deliberations between their biennial meetings.
Election officials said the workspace would be integral to sustaining communication on issues discussed this week. These included electronic voting and the use of technology for voter registration and the results process, managing media around election times, accountability of campaign funding and expenditure, the misuse of state resources, and electoral complaints and petitions.
Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, Canada, who is the new Chair of the Steering Committee, said the two-year-old network had got off to a promising start with “a large number of initiatives that will help ensure integrity of the electoral process and facilitate the sharing of best practice around the Commonwealth".
He also thanked the outgoing Chair, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, for his stewardship of the network, which was launched in Accra in May 2010.
|The first Commonwealth ‘Connects’ online workspace will allow members to continue deliberations between their biennial meetings.|
Judge Thami Makhanya, Judge and Commissioner, Electoral Commission of South Africa, said: “We have met colleagues from other Commonwealth countries, who are sharing their experiences with us and we are doing the same. There have been very informative discussions. These meetings help promote democracy in an immeasurable manner.”
Dorothy Pine-McLarty, Commissioner, Electoral Office of Jamaica, stated: “I am delighted to see the network coming to fruition and to know that the Caribbean is a part of it and would be able to benefit from it. The online workspace will allow us to participate, give our own views and ask questions and get answers to enhance the electoral process in the entire Caribbean, not just Jamaica.”
Polycarp Haununu, Chief Electoral Officer, Solomon Islands, explained that: “The network connection will be very useful for electoral management bodies to learn from each other.”
Amitav Banerji, Director of Political Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, thanked participants, saying: “There is something different about being in the Commonwealth family – a global organisation, but with a level of comfort. The network is well and truly launched.”
The Commonwealth Electoral Network’s aim is to enhance the integrity and credibility of elections across the Commonwealth. The 2012 conference theme was ‘21st Century Elections: Technology and Integrity'.