One of the comprehensive conference findings was that electoral quality and integrity are not only dependent on the process of going to the polls, but are rather influenced by the circumstances given after the election itself. Observers often only focus on the Election Day.
The post- and pre-election period, including the electoral campaigning and the counting of votes are prone to structural infringements. The manifestations of irregularities or fraud most often take place especially during the electoral preparations, more precisely during the drawing up of the voters’ registry. Chances for improvement of the observation and monitoring of balloting were debated on the second day of the Conference. There was consensus amongst the participants regarding the improvement of transparency and integrity of elections due to further monitoring and analysis within the different electoral stages in Africa.
Furthermore, the urgent need to inform stakeholders from the political and civil sphere on the different ways of conducting electoral fraud has been examined.
A panel discussion on “Electoral Integrity in Africa” targeted the general public on May 13, on the brink of the expert Conference. Dr. Paul Isaaks, Director of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), gave the keynote address. Insights and case studies from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe guided the following discussion. The aim herein was to inform the Namibian civil society, media and political parties on variations of electoral fraud in Africa in the run-up to the elections in November 2014.
The focus of discussion was on scientific findings and experiences with variations of fraud and malpractice from several countries in Africa and abroad. Questions tackled include:
What constitutes electoral fraud and malpractice?
When, where and how does electoral fraud take place in Africa?
Which stages of the electoral process are especially prone to manipulation?
Are electoral observers actually able to detect fraud cases?”
The overall objective of the Conference was to sensitize civil societies in Africa on the problems of electoral fraud and malpractice, thereby fostering democracy building on the continent.
The Hanns Seidel Foundation and its partner IIPR will publish a handbook on the Conference’s findings aimed at supporting election observers, political parties and media to identify irregularities and fraud, as well as to assist them in making substantiated evaluations in 2015.