Absentee voting workshop for Commonwealth Pacific election officials kicks off in Wellington

07 November 2022
Wellington vote workshop

A training workshop on absentee voting for Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) based in the Pacific region opened today in Wellington, New Zealand, bringing together 23 participants from 14 Election Management Bodies (EMBs).

The Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with the New Zealand Electoral Commission (NZEC) and the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (PIANZEA) Network is hosting the five-day regional workshop under the theme “Absentee Voting - Enhancing Election Management Body (EMB) Resilience and Inclusiveness”. The workshop is aimed at sharing good practices, capacity-building and helping election officials in election preparedness, thus serving their communities more effectively.

Officials from Australia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea (including the national election management body as well as the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are taking part in the workshop together with those from the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, and Timor-Leste through the PIANZEA collaboration.

Good practise

Opening the workshop, Linford Andrews, Adviser and Head of the Electoral Support Section at the Commonwealth Secretariat noted the timeliness and relevance of the workshop’s theme given recent challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, that have impacted the ability of EMBs to deliver elections. He said:

“This week you will be exploring issues relating to absentee voting – those mechanisms which allow voters an alternative if they can’t attend their polling station on election day. These alternative voting methods are critical in enhancing the accessibility and inclusiveness of the voting process, as well as increasing your EMB’s resilience and preparedness for natural disasters – including, as the world now knows only too well, pandemics.

“This training event will serve as a valuable forum for the exchange of experience in delivering electoral processes in these exceptionally challenging times, and – crucially – the sharing of emerging good practice. I commend to you this opportunity to listen and learn from each other.”

Mr Andrews’ remarks were a precursor to the keynote address delivered by New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, who commended the work of Commonwealth Observer Missions in improving electoral systems and integrity. She also highlighted the importance of Commonwealth countries working together to strengthen each other’s democracies. The Foreign Minister said:

“Free and fair elections that are inclusive and conducted by capable, well-resourced, and independent electoral management bodies enhance the integrity of elections. This is crucial for gaining and maintaining public trust.

“Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the Commonwealth’s support for governance and democracy in the Pacific. This week’s election workshop is an opportunity to share valuable expertise and experience from across the Commonwealth.

“I hope that by sharing your experiences and drawing on the resources and expertise the Commonwealth Secretariat can offer, you leave here even better equipped to deal with the challenges in your own countries.

Credible elections

The participants were also warmly welcomed by Dame Marie Shroff, the Chair of the Board of the New Zealand Electoral Commission, who commended the work of electoral colleagues from across the Pacific region in responding to the call to deliver efficient and credible elections which build trust in electoral processes.

The first day of the workshop focused on gender and social inclusion and saw participants discuss and share good practice as to how their EMBs might enhance and improve the inclusiveness and accessibility of the voting process.


Over the next four days, delegates will explore all aspects of absentee voting including the types and methods of absentee voting currently used in the Pacific, operational and legislative requirements, policy issues, parliament and stakeholder information, and consensus building.

Common challenges

The Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative is an Australian-funded, multi-year project that provides professional development opportunities to election professionals across the Commonwealth. Since 2013, over 250 election professionals from 48 Commonwealth EMBs have participated in at least one of twelve regional training events, providing a trusted and effective platform for the sharing of experience, emerging good practices and solutions to common issues and challenges.

The training in Wellington is the fourth one being held in the region.

Learn more about our electoral support work

Media contact

  • Angela Kolongo Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +44 7587 881503  |  E-mail