Election Observation Final Report
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) fielded a team of visitors for the Mexican presidential, legislative, and state elections held on August 21, 1994. IFES was officially invited by the Instituto de Investigaciones Juridicas of the Universidad Nacional Aut6noma de Mexico and accredited by the General Council of the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE), the federal election authority of Mexico. The electoral event was the culmination of four years of preparation and reform activities.
Under funding from the Center for Democracy/Global Affairs Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), IFES organized an eight-person delegation for the elections. The IFES delegation was chaired by Jeff Fischer, IFES Chief of Staff. Members included Federal Election Commissioner, Joan Aikens; Gabriel Murillo, Acting Director of Programs for the Americas; and Program Officers Roger Plath, Diana Cepeda, and Patricio Gajardo. Also joining the IFES team were Anton Reel, Administrative Assistant at the FEC and Isabelle Rousseau, a French political scientist working with the French embassy in Mexico and an expert on Mexican politics.
IFES is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization chartered to provide technical and electoral assistance to emerging, evolving, and established democracies. Since its inception in 1987, IFES has worked in over 70 countries. IFES services can be divided into two categories: project activities and information services. Its project activities include conducting pre-election technical assessments, providing on-site technical assistance, organizing election commodity procurements, developing and implementing election worker training programs, organizing voter and civic education campaigns, and fielding election observation missions. IFES information activities include research services from the F. Clifton White Election Resource Center. The Election Resource Center houses a collection of data, media, texts, and periodicals relating to elections and democratic initiatives. IFES also organizes conferences and election official internships and exchanges. IFES publishes reports on all of its projects and activities and publishes a quarterly periodical, "Elections Today".
IFES's involvement in the Mexican electoral process began with the organization of the first North American Trilateral Conference on Electoral Systems, which took place in Mexico City on April 6-8, 1994. Three delegations representing Canada, Mexico, and the United States were led by Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada; Arturo Nunez, General Director of IFE; and Trevor Potter, Chairman of the FEC. The conference was organized to offer a comprehensive comparative look at the electoral systems of Mexico, Canada, and the United States. The timing of this event was very important following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The conference was structured to give the participants an opportunity to exchange information and experiences related to election administration in their respective countries. The conference represented the first step toward possible future technical cooperation activities and the establishment of a permanent communication channel. The session topics were: Administrative Structure of the Electoral Organization, Voter Identification and Registration Systems, Campaigns and Political Party Financing, Recruitment and Training of Electoral Officials, Civic Education Programs, Ballot Counting Systems and Dissemination of Results, and Levels of Communication and Cooperation Among Institutions.