Targeted Assistance to the Voter Registration Process: IFES Final Activity Report May 2000-June 2002
IFES involvement in Albania dates back to the first post-Communist election in 1991. Since April 1998, IFES has had a full-time office in Albania. Since that time, IFES has been the primary election support organization from the international community for the Government of Albania and the Central Election Commission. IFES has been instrumental in:
• Ensuring that a provision for an independent CEC was included in the new national Constitution;
• Serving as the primary agent for drafting a new Electoral Code;
• The creation of a national, computerized list of voters;
• The development of five nation-wide civic education programs for voters;
• The development and delivery of training programs for local election officials;
• Providing advice to the CEC on implementation of the law and administration of the elections; and
• Developing commercial relations between the CEC and suppliers of election goods.
Achieving these activities has involved a number of specific projects, many of which are reported on in this document. Others are reported on in other reports pertaining to different funding mechanisms. During the time IFES has been involved in Albania the office staff has increased with the addition of a full-time Deputy Project Manager and two national staff. During specific peak periods of activity, staff complement has risen with additional national staff and international consultants.
IFES Albania project funds have come primarily from USAID. IFES received funding through the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) I mechanism from May 2000- June 2002. In addition, IFES was able to secure a program grant from the Canadian International Development Agency in the year 2000 for training of election officials by national NGOs and publication of the year 2000 local government election results; from the United States Department of State for the purchase of election supplies in 2000; and from the governments of Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, England and Holland for components of the Voter Registration Project beginning in 2001.
The activities undertaken by IFES have been based on a close collaboration with the Central Election Commission. This collaboration is outlined in the CECIIFES Agreement and covers a broad range of activities including advice to the CEC; management of the Voter Registration Project; civic education and training; and the publication of election results. In addition there has been a close collaboration between IFES and the international community especially with the OSCE, US Embassy and the Friends of Albania. The strong relationship between IFES and all of these organizations has been instrumental in the achievement of the IFES work program over the past three years.
An important part of IFES Albania's activity has been the provision of advice to the CEC (corporately and individually to members and staff). It is difficult to measure the importance of this activity, however, it is also clear that this has been an important and useful activity. Not only has the CEC sought to expand its relationship with IFES but individual members of the Commission also frequently seek out IFES staff for assistance.
IFES has had a direct and strong impact on the development of a democratic election process. Through assistance from IFES:
• A national computerized voter list has been created for the first time;
• First ever training of local officials has taken place and the CEC is moving to establish its own capabilities in this field;
• Two successful civic education campaigns have prompted the CEC to establish its own expertise in this area;
• Modem election supplies have been purchased;
• Courts are more actively involved in settling election disputes;
• A move is underway to establish an Association of Election Officials in an effort to develop a spirit of impartiality at the local level and create a sense of professionalism;
• A national survey of election officials has been completed;
• There has been a heightened level of trust by the political parties in the ability of the CEC to undertake its responsibilities in an impartial manner;
• A comprehensive report on the local government elections was published; and
• Electoral zone boundary maps were published for the first time.
Much of these activities reflect a first step towards best practices in the field of election administration. However, collectively they have also contributed to the increased transparency of the election process in Albania and thus contributed to the fact that the last two elections (October 2000 and June 2001) were, for the first time since 1991, free of violence.
There is much more to do. Changes need to be made to the electoral code; the voter list continues to have a number of errors; local mapping is required; and more extensive training of local election officials is a continuing challenge, as is the development of greater professionalism with all parts of the CEC. These issues represent the challenges for the future and constitute the major core of IFES activities in Albania in the immediate future.