Election Observers Head to the Dominican Republic
International Team will Examine the New Voter Identification System And Emphasize Access for People with Disabilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) is sending a delegation of 19 election experts from nine different countries to the Dominican Republic to observe the May 16 Presidential elections. The observers will be in the Dominican Republic from May 11 through 18, examining various aspects of the electoral process, particularly the new voter identification system and the accessibility of the process to all Dominicans, including those with disabilities.
The delegation is lead by Richard W. Soudriette, President of IFES and Rosa Marina Zelaya, Proprietary Magistrate of the Supreme Electoral Council of Nicaragua and a member of IFES' International Advisory Council. Also on the delegation is Ambassador John Graham, the former Ambassador of Canada to the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and Roberto Leal Ocampo, General Director of the Confederation of Parents and Friends of Persons with Disabilities for Central America and the Caribbean. The IFES delegation displays unique technical electoral expertise through their academic, governmental and civic organizational backgrounds.
"IFES is very pleased to be sending such a well-qualified team of observers to these important elections," stated Soudriette. "This observation mission will be guided by the findings from three IFES pre-electoral technical assessment trips conducted earlier this year."
As part of IFES' initiative to enfranchise citizens with disabilities, the entire delegation will be trained to use special observation forms to document whether polling sites were accessibility, the secrecy of the individual's vote was maintained and the awareness of poll workers on providing assistance. By integrating the concerns of citizens with disabilities into its election monitoring and other multi-faceted programs, IFES hopes to draw attention to certain elements that prevent persons with disabilities from exercising their basic human rights, actively participating in political life or obtaining information on all aspects of the electoral and political process.
In 1994, IFES provided the Dominican Republic's Junta Central Electoral (Central Electoral Board) with technical assistance on a wide range of electoral matters and observed the 1994 Presidential Elections. IFES has also conducted many other electoral observation missions in other countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, including Chile, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
Since 1987, IFES has provided technical assistance to more than 20 Spanish, English, Portuguese, Dutch and French-speaking nations throughout the Americas. IFES' democratic strengthening projects throughout the region have been supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), private foundations, the United Nations, and bilateral agreements.
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IFES provides technical assistance in the promotion of democracy worldwide and serves as a clearinghouse for information about democratic development and elections. Since its inception in 1987, the Foundation has worked in more than 100 countries. For more information, please visit the IFES web site at www.ifes.org.