NINTH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION DECEMBER 29, 2008 PART :2

5.  SELECTION PROCESS OF JANIPOP OBSERVERS

To make observation professional, neutral and credible JANIPOP, recruitment committee adheres to the following criteria while selecting the observers:

  • Observers are above 25 years of age;
  • Observers are educated as per the rules of the BEC; and
  • Observers are not politically biased and are value neutral.

In this regard, strong reference check is conducted to ensure neutrality of the observers. A pool of experienced trainers trains up the selected observers meeting the above requirements.

6. TRAINING OF THE OBSERVERS

To make election observation logical, procedural, acceptable and credible, JANIPOP observers are impart training on theoretical and practical issues related to election observation. The issues included in training are election observation and its importance, importance of right reporting, importance of qualitative and quantitative information, techniques of data collection, the JANIPOP Codes of Conduct, the international standard of observation, focus areas of election observation, relations with media and so on. We can summarize the contents of training of observers as follows:

  • Purpose and necessity of election observation;
  • Objectives of the training;
  • Value-neutrality of observers;
  • Relevance of qualitative and quantitative data;
  • Techniques of data collection;
  • Sticking to JANIPOP Codes of Ethic;
  • International standards of observation;
  • Focus areas of election observation; and
  • Media relations.

Brain-storming session

In this session of the training program, both the trainers and the trainees ask questions and learn through the answers and try to fill the gaps and ambiguities regarding observation process. The brain-storming session is a two-way process involving the trainer and trainees in a meaningful dialogue.

Role play

Former LTOs share their experiences as  observers with the newly recruited observers. Besides this, through role plays the trainees present various issues of election observation.

Theory

Question- answer

Experience sharing and role play

Training on efficient observation

7. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF JANIPOP OBSERVERS

Short Term Observers

STOs are responsible for gathering and reporting information on the election process. They are deployed in the field on Election Day as mobile observers covering observation of opening of the polling stations, casting of ballots, any violence or disputes outside or inside the polling stations. There were 675 STOs deployed to the field on Election Day in the 9th Parliamentary Election. JANIPOP’s STOs conducted mobile observation, moving from one polling station to another. In the 9th Parliamentary Election, an interim report was released on the Election Day based on the information collected by the STOs, which was quoted in most of the national and local dailies the following day.

Long Term Observers

LTOs provide an in-depth look at the electoral process right from the beginning of election campaign till the aftermath of the conduct of actual election. LTOs provide perspectives on the nomination of candidates, election campaign, the accuracy of the voters’ list, electoral disputes, the preparation of local election officials, electoral violence, Election Day observation, and the resolution of post-election disputes.  LTOs had significant amount of interactions with election officials, local administration, candidates and civil society groups. A total of 106 LTOs were deployed in the field to observe the December 29 election in 53 National Parliamentary Constituencies. Long term observation continued for 35 days starting 22 days prior to the Election Day and the next 13 days including the Election Day. These 35 days were divided into five phases. After every slot (7 days) the observers submitted the filled in forms with the inputs of collected data to the JANIPOP Divisional Coordinators. The Divisional Coordinators then with the assistance of their respective Secretaries sent the summary versions including the forms to the JANIPOP HQ. JANIPOP National Coordinator with the help of JANIPOP HQ Secretary 1 and 2 and other staffs prepared this Final Report.

Divisional project secretaries

Divisional project secretaries support the work of the divisional coordinators as prescribed by their role. They also help the Divisional Coordinators to keep contact with JANIPOP HQ.

Accountant

To handle the affairs of finance of JANIPOP in a professional manner in a complex project management scenario, JANIPOP has employed an account in its HQ.

Program Associate

JANIPOP has employed two program associates to ensure smooth functioning of the election observation. They provide support to the National Coordinator in carrying out his tasks.

Trainers

To systematize the training process and ensure better quality of observation, JANIPOP has recruited two trainers for its election related matters.

Divisional Coordinators

The Divisional Coordinators are responsible for managing and coordinating election observation in their respective divisions.  Divisional Coordinators are assigned with:

  • Recruiting qualified election observers in their divisions;
  • Ensuring that at least 33% of the LTOs recruited are women, and that observers meet the age requirement for accreditation by BEC;
  • Organizing and transmitting the observers’ information to JANIPOP HQ;
  • Distributing stipends to observers and managing respective accounts;
  • Coordinating observers, ensuring proper observation coverage;
  • Collecting field observation reports and compiling reports for transfer to JANIPOP HQ;
  • Providing general guidance to observers;
  • Ensuring that observers are abiding by the JANIPOP Codes of Conduct;
  • Interacting with local election officials; and
  • Overseeing the work of divisional project secretaries.

Interns

JANIPOP HQ has three Interns to support the activities of the key officials. They are mostly university students and get opportunity to get work experience with our team.

National Secretaries

Two national secretaries are assigned with the overall coordination and management of the project. They compile all reports as well as observation and observers’ details, maintain project files, aggregate reports and prepare regular reporting for JANIPOP National Coordinator and Chairman. They also make proper arrangements for project management. The main responsibilities of the secretaries are:

  • Maintaining the observation deployment plan;
  • Staying in regular communication with divisional coordinators;
  • Keeping records of all observation reports and observers’ files;
  • Drafting regular interim reports for the review of JANIPOP National Coordinator and Chairman; and
  • Aggregating field information for review by  JANIPOP National Coordinator and Chairman;

National Coordinator

With a view of carrying out JANIPOP activities more efficiently and effectively in terms of quality observation, a National Coordinator was appointed to supervise and coordinate the observation chain reducing the time consumption. He is assigned to the following tasks:

  • Ensuring coordination among the project staffs;
  • Ensuring that the National Secretaries are preparing summary reports after the end of every week;
  • Editing the weekly reports sent by national secretaries, consulting the Chairman on them and dissemination of reports to stakeholders;
  • Reviewing progress of project activities; and
  • Informing and sharing the latest of project updates with the JANIPOP Chairman:
  • To assist JANIPOP Chairman in key policy matters and communicating with key national and international stakeholders.

JANIPOP Chairman

The JANIPOP Chairman is the highest official in policy decisions within the organization. The Chairman comes up with overall strategy and vision of the project, coordinates observation activity with other domestic observation groups, as well as with international observation groups. He is responsible for issuing observation reports, interacting with the BEC and media, and communicating findings to national and international stakeholders.

8. JANIPOP OBSERVATION TEAMS

With a view to observing the recently concluded 9th Parliamentary Election, JANIPOP adhered to the strict laws regarding observers’ guidelines formulated by BEC and tried its best to ensure professionalism and good practices in this regard. With this view, JANIPOP LTOs were trained centrally in Dhaka in a training session jointly organized by JANIPOP and IRI, where the LTOs got hands on training on their job to be performed. Since the STOs were large in number, they were trained at Divisional HQs of JANIPOP where they came to learn how to do the job professionally and skillfully. The training sessions eased their job to a large extent as the findings later showed during the observation time. JANIPOP deployed 106 LTOs and 675 STOs in the 9th Parliamentary elections of 2008. In order to encourage women’s participation in the observation process, JANIPOP was able to deploy 50% female LTOs and 20% women STOs which were easily possible as the selection process of observers was very proactive and effective on part of JANIPOP.

Deployment of observers by JANIPOP

Name of the Division LTOs STOs
Female Male Total Female Male Total
Dhaka 09 09 18
Rajshahi 08 08 16
Khulna 08 08 16
Chittagong 11 11 22
Sylhet 09 09 18
Barisal 08 08 16
Totals Total=53 Total=53 Total=106 675

To make the observation process professional, reliable, reasonable and effective, JANIPOP deployed a combination of LTOs and STOs in the field. Two observers were deployed in each LTO team. This team division was done exclusively by the Divisional Coordinators with the advice from National Coordinator and JANIPOP Chairman.

9. INTERNATIONAL STANDARD OF JANIPOP OBSERVATION

International standards for election observation dictate that election observation is: the systematic, comprehensive and accurate gathering of information concerning the laws, processes and institutions related to the conduct of elections and other factors concerning the overall electoral environment; the impartial and professional analysis of such information; and the drawing of conclusions about the character of electoral processes based on the highest standards for accuracy of information and impartial analysis. International election observation should, when possible, offer recommendations for improving the integrity and effectiveness of electoral and related processes, while not interfering in and thus hindering such processes. Though JANIPOP is a Southern NGO committed to democracy and transparency of election process of Bangladesh and elsewhere, it committed to internationally set norms and standards for election observation. We are also committed to share our ideas and experiences to our national and international stakeholders. It will definitely challenge the predominant notion of unequal partnership of Northern and Southern NGOs. We believe that development is not all about money and economic development but a change of self-perception and improved institutional capability.

10. JANIPOP’S AREA OF FOCUS

JANIPOP developed a reporting format for the observers so that the LTOs and STOs can collect data in a professional and reliable way. Observers were trained hands on where to put which sort of data in different parts of the forms. The trainings were proven highly fruitful when the observers went into the field to perform their tasks. The JANIPOP divisional Coordinators, with assistance of their secretaries collected the filled-in forms and respective team-wise summary reports, and instantly prepared slot-wise summaries for sending them to JANIPOP HQ. The HQ secretaries together with other staffs collected the reports coming from the fields and went through those very shortly and prepared division-wise summary reports for every ten days. The seven/ten days short summaries were then sent to IRI, USAID and other stakeholders for their review.

JANIPOP deployed its observers in such a manner that not a single event of the electoral areas had gone unnoticed and uncovered. In case any information could not be verified directly, JANIPOP observers were able to justify the information by applying their third eyes. As a result, no countable event was left out of JANIPOP observers’ coverage during observation within selected constituencies. The LTOs emphasized on the following areas:

  • Political campaign;
  • Submission of documents of campaign finance and expenditure reports;
  • Accuracy of the voters’ lists and amendment of the existing lists;
  • Violence in the elections;
  • Electoral preparedness of the BEC;
  • Election day activities such as vote casting, counting and declaration of election results; and
  • Settlements of electoral dispute.

11. INFORMATION FLOW

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