IFES Weighs in on Caribbean Elections During Annual Meeting
By: Alessandra Rossi, Chief of Party, Haiti
From January 16-17, 2014, IFES participated in the Seventh General Meeting of the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organizations (ACEO) in Paramaribo, Suriname.
The two-day meeting covered key electoral topics that affect member States. Participants shared experiences and heard from experts in hopes of improving electoral processes in their respective nations.
IFES was represented by Haiti Chief of Party Alessandra Rossi. The conference was an opportunity for IFES to learn more about elections in the Caribbean and use lessons learned to assist the Haitian electoral process.
Presentations and discussions focused on comparative experiences in regulating campaign finance; voter registration; establishing partnerships with stakeholders; and the role of technology in democracy. During the conference, all participants outlined challenges facing their own electoral and political processes and the role ACEO could play in finding solutions.
A key topic was campaign finance. Jean Pierre Kingsley, former IFES President and CEO, discussed campaign finance regulations. He focused on the role electoral management bodies (EMBs) can play in establishing credible political and campaign finance procedures.
As public debate about the financing of political parties and campaigns increases, ACEO will serve as a forum for election authorities and political leaders to discuss proposed financing regimes and their applicability in the Caribbean.
Other conference highlights included Orette Fisher of the Jamaica Electoral Commission, who presented on continuous registration. The Delian Project – a Canadian group that procures and donates electoral technology to emerging democracies – covered the role of technology in the electoral process.
The conference was hosted by Dr. Steve Surujbally, Chairman of the Guyana Electoral Commission, and Dr. Jennifer Van Dijk Silos, Chairperson of the Suriname Electoral Commission.
Participating countries included Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands. The Election Commission of South Africa was also represented.
The ACEO was created in 1988 as an avenue to discuss issues affecting EMBs in the Caribbean. The Organization of American States General Secretariat and IFES assisted in its creation.