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March 18, 2021

COVID-19's Impact On Elections And Participatory Rights


During Carter Center activities in Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Myanmar, Liberia, and Zambia, we observed how COVID-19 affected election processes and the exercise of basic participatory rights. We also observed the ways in which authorities met COVID-19 challenges, whether by ensuring that elections could go forward safely and with broad participation or, conversely, by using the pandemic as an excuse to limit rights, create an unlevel playing field, or to postpone elections.

Join this Roundtable discussion on Thursday, March 18, at 9 a.m. EDT (UTC -4) to hear about lessons learned during observation of different electoral processes around the globe, all carried out during the pandemic.

Guests include:

- Juliet Kaira Chibuta, Executive Director, Zambia National Women’s Lobby

- Augustine S.M. Tamba, Head of Secretariat, Liberia Election Observation Network (LEON)

- Jose’ Antonio de Gabriel, Head of TCC Expert mission to Bolivia elections

- Tommaso Caprioglio, Deputy Director/Legal Analyst, EISA/TCC IEOM to Cote d’Ivoire

- Jonathan Stonestreet, Associate Director Democracy Program at The Carter Center

The conversation will be moderated by Barbara Smith, Vice President of Peace Programs, The Carter Center.

Notwithstanding challenges posed by COVID-19 - which was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 - The Carter Center continued and continues carrying out electoral observation and analysis projects, either through the deployment of international missions and expert teams, or through support to national Citizen Observation Organizations.

The Center implemented an Electoral Expert Mission to analyze the Bolivia General Elections (Oct 2020); an International Electoral Observation mission (IEOM) to observe the Myanmar General Elections (Nov 2020); an IEOM to observe the Côte d’Ivoire general elections (Nov 2020) and has an ongoing IEOM to observe the country’s legislative elections (Mar 2021). In Liberia our Citizen Observation partner LEON observed the senatorial elections (Dec 2020). In Zambia our partner Zambia National Women’s Lobby engages with elected women, and those planning to run for office in August 2021.

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Monte McMurchy: 9:26 am

My issue concern is that germane to Electoral Tourism whereby scarce resources are wasted on deployment of International's with limited civic civil electoral expertise. Instead Local National Civil Society Organizations should must be empowered with resources instead of deploying resources for purpose of Election Tourism as National CSO's empowered would be best able to hold the governing authority to account.

Forum Admin: 9:39 am

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Monte McMurchy: 9:42 am

Alan Renwick in The Politics of Electoral Reform suggests most strong “elections lie at the heart of modern democracy” and "belief in democracy amounts to belief in the value of certain [democratic pluralistic] processes". This ‘democracy equals elections’ algorithm I regard as being facile and descriptively pernicious in the advancement of sound congruent civic civil social electoral credibility. My interest and concern is where democratic rules originate and why these rules either submit to change or remain static. I believe if we want to know where elections rules originate, we need to recognize that democracy—the democratic struggle—is the heart and soul of elections and the civic electoral process specifically when electoral rules are taxonomically assessed. Democracy—democratic process needs to be grounded in the prism presuming that democracy is not this or that type/kind of civil institution and not amenable to facile matrix definition/categorization; but rather a very very very messy conflictive dialectic process constantly evolving and mutating according to historic exigency. I believe modern representative elections are governed by a complex body of rules known as an ‘electoral system’ which may be considered as the social positive ethos reflecting governance institution standards of prescriptive probative conduct. These civil social changes are of crucial importance in understanding as well as appreciating civic electoral modifications which ought to reflect and strengthen normative sound good institution representative governance. Therefore, National Civil Society Organizations need to be funded ensuring CSO capacity to fully exercise prescriptive along with descriptive responsibility in Election Monitoring without reliance from International Election Monitoring—‘Election Tourist'. The civic civil social electoral process inclusive of procedure must be grounded within a strict ethos of trust. - Trust in the EMB-Election Management Body. - Trust in the various political actors encouraging them to reflect in advancing the ‘better angels’ in their society. - Trust in the governance process facilitating indirectly/directly the election. - Trust in the legal judicial institutions which provide regulatory oversight in the conduct of an election. Developing trust means intense profound strengthening of National Civil Society Organizations which will require dedicating significant resources to these multifaceted CSO's as National CSO's are best able to modulate the entire civic civil social electoral process enhancing an outcome electoral which is deemed by the majority of citizens as both credible and inclusive in being ethically virtuous in process and procedure. National CSO's dedicated in areas of Human Rights, Law, Academe, Health Care, Students, Political Party, Teachers, Public Administrators, Church, Engineers, Technical Agents would be embedded within the Electoral Management Body [EMB] along with being legally privileged in attending each polling precinct to bear witness in strictly observing the civic civil social electoral process in full entirety ensuring mitigation in electoral 'sharp practice' as deployment of National CSO's will only inspire among the national citizens an enriched trust in the election process. My extensive exposure in regions fragile where I participated in election design and planning including the administration of elections has lead me to this conclusion in prescriptive electoral judgement as I now subscribe to National CSO embedding fully within the civic civil social electoral process which must be allowed to continue from one election cycle into the following election cycle as ‘ad hoc’ International Election Observation cannot ever hope to trench fully into the nexus of an election in determining malfeasance. Instead of allocating resources to International Electoral Missions, preference ought be given to ensuring that these National CSO's are allowed the professional intellectual tools inclusive of administrative logistics in being able to project within the electoral cycle a full complete forensic analytical series of ongoing assessments without fear or favour. If this form of CSO strengthening fulsome were to be considered and implemented I opine a debacle such as the Kenyan election imbroglio several years ago might very well have been averted as the signals suggesting electoral impropriety facilitated by the Kenyan EMB would have been detected and made public with proper appropriate evidence leading to necessary electoral recalibration. Successful Elections are trust embedded and the civic civil social electoral process fails utterly whenever the trust baseline is compromised, however marginal the trust fault line maybe. I remain sincerely, Monte McMurchy LL.D. Member of UNDP Democratic Governance Roster For Electoral Systems, Member UNDP Expert Roster For Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Member UNDP Expert Roster For Parliamentary Development. 30 years international experience in Civic Electoral Building and Civil Capacity Good Governance Development coupled with an academic background to the post graduate level in Ethics, Epistemology, Education, Political Science, Law and Moral Philosophy [Queen's University-University of Cambridge-University of Toronto-Harvard University] has allowed me to be reflective in civic civil governance post conflict considerations as well as being able to consider prescriptive normative civil and military capacity institutional strengthening. My international assignments include service with the OSCE-United Nations-Commonwealth-Council of Europe-USAID-CIDA where I continue to provide prescriptive civic civil governance administrative political public advice. Significant prior civic civil social electoral endeavours in regions stress fragile [including Cambodia, Afghanistan, DRC, Kosovo, Georgia, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mali] under aegis of UNDP, Commonwealth [senior electoral advisor] and USAID [country director/Liberia] ensures my capacity to fully appreciate electoral outreach expectations.

Private Member 1: 9:58 am

Model-based simulations for Côte d'Ivoire point to a 95% confidence interval for the time-varying reproduction number, and the present of 504,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine provided through COVAX, How is this affect participator rights of citizens?


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