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3 downloadsConference Reader - ‘International Conference on ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Electoral Processes.’ (January 2018) This Conference Reader has been prepared to support and facilitate interaction at the ‘International Conference on ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Electoral Processes.’ as a part of the 8th National Voters’ Day celebrations. The Reader, starting with the conceptual framework and guidance contained in International Treaties, visits the initiatives and experience of different EMBs and International Institutions in addressing issues and challenges of inclusion of PwDs in electoral participation.
5 downloadsThis Conference Reader has been prepared to facilitate the interaction during the three day International Conference on Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation. The Reader focuses on some of the fundamental concepts in the realm of democracy, electoral standards and the voter education followed by the readings, for each of the sessions (Sections 1-5), which reflect the strategies, approaches and systems developed and adopted by different countries for voter education besides the Introductory Note and Note on Issues and Challenges in respect of each of the thematic sessions of the Conference. Section 6 offers some Case studies. The Introductory Section deals with basic concepts and extends welcome to the Conference through sharing the Indian experience of voter education. International electoral standards emanate from the UDHR and ICCPR etc. Article 21of UDHR speaks of right to participation by all in forming the government in a country, will of the people to be to be basis of the authority, will to be expressed through periodic and genuine elections and elections to be conducted through universal and equal suffrage by secret vote. Article 25 of ICCPR is about participation and introduces human rights aspects into electoral process. Any system operating in a State must be compatible with the rights protected by Article 25 and must guarantee free expression of the will of the electors. The principle of one person, one vote, must apply. Participation, direct or indirect through freely elected representatives, is the fundamental connect with the base of substantive human rights. A voter is the central figure who elects in a democracy. Free and fair elections, characterized by inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, and competitiveness, are fundamental to democracy and the basis for democratic legitimacy. Elections are a process comprised of multiple steps. Elector confidence or the public confidence in each step of electoral process is vital to the credibility and integrity of an election and in turn the democratic polity. For electors, to choose their representatives through the ballot, it is essential that they are fully aware of all the steps and procedures of the electoral process and they are comfortably confident of making informed ballot decisions. In this context, voter education is of tremendous significance and import to the voters, the election management bodies and the contestants. And this is what forms the basis for voter education and its generic macro sphere that is civic education The UNCHR in its Handbook on Human Rights and Elections (1994) has spelt out the guiding principles on “Public Information and Voter Education.” The principles inter alia state that the funding and administration should be provided for objective, non-partisan voter education and information campaigns especially for new voters. The public should be well informed as to where, when and how to vote besides why voting is important. Voters must be confident in the integrity of the election process and their right to participate in it. Literature should be widely available in all national languages to help meaningful participation by all eligible voters. Multimedia methods should be employed to provide effective civic education to people. Voter education campaigns should cover the entire territory of the country. In this background, aims and objects of voter education must address the information and awareness needs of all categories of voters including the needs emerging from new technologies so that a voter feels confident and familiar with the entire electoral process. Voter education must be universal in coverage and address challenges of gender sensitivity, inclusion, voter apathy, youth engagement besides marginalized sections of society. Civic education, as compared to voter education, is a broader and generic concept aimed at conveying knowledge of a country’s political system; the organization, structure and the way it operates. Voter education is most effective when it integrates with civic education that puts the election into context for voters and provides an explanation of the election’s purpose, the surrounding issues, and their significance. Strategies and approach adopted for voter education may vary in different countries. EMB’s are primarily responsible for voter education; institutional arrangements and strategies for connect with the Voter. The government, the public and private media, political parties, nonpartisans including international organizations plays a vital supplementary role as stakeholders subject to overall guidelines of the EMB and strict conditions of non partisan approach. In India, ‘Systematic Voters’ Education & Electoral Participation’ (SVEEP) is the flagship programme of the ECI which addresses the voter education needs of over 834 million voters spread over 543 constituencies of the House of People and 4120 Assembly constituencies covering 30 States and Union Territories. Essentially an outreach based programme, it engages voters through multimedia under well designed strategies to connect with the grass roots of Indian democracy with its vertical impact going down to the voters spread over almost a million polling stations located in far flung villages, hamlets in rural areas and its capture of Indian diversity which generates the strength of India’s unity through its democratic polity
3 downloadsThis Conference Reader ‘Strategies to Empower Young and Future Voters’ visits the strategies, initiatives and experiences from participating EMB’s and international institutions besides Readings intended not only to support the interaction during the conference but a continued dialogue to enrich the knowledge base for sharing on the VoICE.NET platform. The Conference Reader that has been prepared in the Election Commission of India for supporting and facilitating the interaction during the Seminar. The Reader carries important papers from the Participating EMB’s, International Organizations besides the additional Readings on the subject developed through in house expertise in the ECI. We intend placing this document and the deliberations of the Seminar on the VoICE.NET Platform for a continued dialogue on ‘Knowledge Sharing’ for the cause of ‘Young and Future Voters’ in the Democracies of the world.
3 downloadsThe Conference aims at coming up with a resolution emerging from the experience of all participants on how to strengthen Inclusive, Informed and Ethical electoral participation. Contents PART I - Election Commission of India and Voter Education PART II - Concept Paper PART III - Agenda PART IV - Thematic Sessions and related Best Practices PART V - Delegates from Election Management Bodies PART VI - Experts
11 downloadsInternational Conference on Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation Background 'I have the power', this realisation of the importance of the power of the fundamental right to vote and the difference it can make to their lives and the nation makes the Voter the central actor in democratic election process. Is voting just a right, a duty, a voluntary action or an empowering collective journey taken by a huge number of people deciding not the fate of the candidate but their own? Who the voter decides to vote for is their individual choice and decision, but the voter should surely and definitely participate in the election process. Can we empower, inform, engage, and facilitate the voter to do so? Can we understand their reasons and perceptions, beliefs and motivations, barriers and challenges, experiences (good, bad, ugly) and their habits, contexts and contours that shape their decision to cast or not to cast their vote? Can we motivate the voter to realise the power, feel the power, believe in that power and energise him/her to take that call that their one vote can and does make the difference. It is an immense challenge given the diversity, geography, socio-culture-faith factors, family- community dynamics, gender bias, disability and sometime just the habit of apathy, indifference and laziness. Voting is not just a physical action; it is not just a management or logistic issue; it is not just a matter or right or duty; it is harnessing the power of one. Voters™ Participation in the democratic and electoral processes is integral to the successful running of any democracy and the very basis of wholesome democratic elections. Thus, it becomes an integral part of election management. Inclusion™ is prioritised in article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) with stipulates that every citizen must be provided the right and opportunity, without discrimination based on distinctions of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and without unreasonable restrictions, to vote and to be elected. Abuse of money and muscle power in elections, destroys the level playing field. It distorts the spirit of democracy. â€˜Quality electoral participationâ€™, in terms of making an informed choice without consideration of any inducement, is the bedrock of a vibrant democracy. Thus Inclusive Voter education needs to be given due and strong emphasis with the kind of seriousness and depth it deserves by the election management bodies. Voters™ education is not only the correct but also the most appropriate way to improve participation in a democracy compared to any other alternative. Realizing this, several countries in fact have voters™ education as part of their constitutional mandate. Voter Education is a continuous process and has an important role in all phases of the Electoral Cycle Stakeholders of Voter Education process Election Managements Bodies All Eligible Citizens Prospective Electors Political Parties NGOs and CSOs Media Corporate Sector International Community IIn the aforementioned backdrop, Election Commission of India proposes to organise an international conference on â€˜Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participationâ€™ from 19-21st October 2016. Objectives to study the best practices by EMBs towards promoting inclusive, informed and ethical electoral participation; identify the roles that different stakeholders can play ; assess challenges related to voter education â€“ and ways to tackle them to explore ways and means to impart electoral literacy through curricula and extra-curricula in educational institutions to explore successful methods of imparting electoral literacy to population outside formal sector of educational institutions to explore role of technology in voter education to look at policies and practices that can support inclusive, informed and ethical electoral participation to assess the impact of voter education in supporting informed and ethical participation in electoral democracy Structure of the Conference In order to allow for a successful Conference, the participants present experiences and successful practices in the field of voter education leading to inclusive and informed electoral participation in their areas of work. Special initiatives for reaching out to special group of voters like defence forces, overseas citizens etc may also be presented. Other actors that are involved in electoral processes, like CSOs, Media representatives, partner departments who have worked towards participation of women, marginalised groups (e.g. people with disabilities, indigenous peoples etc) would also be able to give a perspective. The Conference aims to showcase and elicit good practices â€“ as well as their potential for replication in other contexts â€“ and to provide EMBs with comparative information, data, experiences and examples to mainstream electoral literacy. Moreover, the Conference will aim at coming up with conclusions emerging from the experience of all participants on how to strengthen informed and ethical electoral participation, be it through legal frameworks or different policies. Topics: Electoral Literacy in formal education : Voter education in curricula and extra curricula Inclusive Electoral Literacy through informal education channel: Reaching out to those outside schools and other marginalised groups i.e. Persons with Disability (PwDs), women, people working in unorganized labour sector, tribals etc) Enhancement of participation by special categories of voters: Outreach for defence personnel, diplomatic mission personnel, polling personnel and overseas citizens Role of Information and Communication Technology for Voter Education & Feedback: Technology use for dialogue with the stakeholders including feedback, surveys etc Voter Education for Informed and Ethical Voting: Building awareness for quality electoral participation among voters and other stakeholders like political parties, candidates, CSOs etc Papers on the topic are invited on select theme so as to group the participants into different thematic groups for sharing of their best practice. The papers shall also be documented in the form of a Conference Reader and shared ahead of the Conference. A display section shall also be provided at the venue to exhibit the material being used across countries for Voter Education. Participants are required to bring along literature and tool kits that they would want to showcase and share besides the exhibits and audio-visuals for display.