The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled election administrators across the globe to protect voters, poll workers and election officials throughout the electoral process. Among their many important considerations is the recruitment, training and retention of poll workers. As many potential poll workers are concerned about potential exposure during trainings and on Election Day, election administrators must adapt their processes and procedures to safeguard elections’ frontline workers.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) collaborated on the development and launch of an innovative e-learning platform to pilot an online poll worker training open to all citizens. The e-learning platform was developed in all three official languages and available through the CEC’s website, where any interested citizen could sign up and access the platform. The platform integrated good practices in online learning and user experience to increase accessibility and user-friendly features, such as multiple interactive exercises, short video demonstrations and in-course resources instead of links.
Using the existing training materials from the CEC’s standard in-person poll worker training, the CEC and IFES adapted the curriculum for use online, employing videos, interactive quizzes and reading resources to strengthen comprehension and practical skill-building. The training consists of four chapters, each covering poll workers’ different activities on Election Day. The first three cover Election Day procedures and compliance with the electoral legal framework, while the last chapter focuses on the CEC’s instructions and procedures to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk in polling stations.
The CEC formally launched the e-learning platform and poll worker training module at a press conference on October 15, 2020, encouraging any interested citizens to sign up. The CEC and IFES also developed a user guide on how to complete their registration and fully engage with the platform’s features. In the first 15 days of its launch, nearly 800 citizens had registered, and four days before the local elections on November 15, that number grew to nearly 1,500.
By the time elections took place, more than 750 prospective poll workers, including 383 women, had completed some or all chapters of the online training. As all poll workers were also required to attend in-person trainings, these numbers demonstrate a strong public interest in community service and in understanding poll workers’ roles and responsibilities on Election Day, including measures introduced in polling stations to mitigate the threat of COVID-19.
IFES’ support in developing the e-learning platform and online poll worker training module drew on international standards and good practices, both in regard to e-learning approaches and the content and scope of effective poll worker trainings. IFES also leveraged experience developing e-learning platforms and online trainings in other countries, which found that interactive and segmented material produced higher engagement. Furthermore, IFES provided technical assistance on the introduction of COVID-19 mitigation measures and encouraged the CEC to include pertinent information for participants in the modules. Moving forward, IFES and the CEC will explore further expansion of the e-learning platform by developing additional training modules and building off the demonstrated success of the platform and widespread engagement by citizens.
Published on February 3, 2021.