Ukraine Election Management Body Training Assessment Report
In Ukraine, effective election administration depends on the successful coordination of the efforts of roughly 4,000 district election commissioners and over 500,000 precinct election commissioners devoted to the implementation of Election Day operations. Proper training of this huge workforce is vital to ensure that voters are served efficiently, that votes are counted accurately and transparently, and that elections meet accepted international standards uniformly throughout the country. The election timeline demands that this training be conducted in a very narrow window of time, as district election commissioners are appointed just 45 days prior to Election Day, and precinct commissioners just 35 days prior. These circumstances conspire to create a situation where training election staff is just as difficult as it is essential.
How to effectively train this large election staff is a question that is often raised when faced with the prospect of scheduled and early elections in Ukraine. The answer remains unclear, as different approaches have been employed in the past and proposed for the future. Previous solutions relied on international assistance; until recently the training of election staff was conducted by a USAID-funded project administered by Development Associates, Inc.; for the upcoming presidential election the training will be conducted by a predominantly European Commission-funded project administered by the OSCE.
International and local stakeholder support for election training has helped the CEC steadily improve the quality of election administration in Ukraine. However, all previous assistance efforts have left the CEC overly reliant on outside organizations to conduct election training. This puts the CEC in a precarious situation as effective election training is the lynchpin of effective election administration. The recent legal amendments only reinforce this precarious situation by institutionalizing the CEC’s secondary role, emphasizing the training of Election Day staff as a function belonging to political parties. Over the past year, IFES has been working with the CEC to consider the wisdom of such a move and perhaps propose an alternative way forward, one that creates a central role for the CEC in training election commissioners and leaves the responsibility of election administration in their care.
Consequently, in direct cooperation with the CEC, IFES has conducted a training needs assessment of Ukraine’s election administration to develop a strategy that addresses two goals: first, to provide an optimal strategy for training commissioners for the January 2010 Presidential elections; and second, to identify the capacities the CEC must develop and fund in order to lead this vital aspect of election administration in the future. This report is Step One of the process, an assessment of the training plans and needs of the CEC. IFES met with the CEC, donors, and implementers of election assistance, past and present, and reviewed training programs and materials in order to evaluate past training activities and suggest concrete improvements to current plans to train Election Management Bodies (EMBs) (i.e., the district election commissions [DECs] and precinct election commissions [PECs]) for the upcoming Presidential elections. The report concludes by initiating Step Two of the process: proposing a long-term capacity-building program to be implemented during the non-election period. A full analysis of this long-term program and its prospects for Ukraine must be addressed separately.