democracy, Democratic transitions, UEC

Getting ready for the 2020 general election

With Myanmar’s general election a little over two years away, now is the time for the Union Election Commission to analyse and review its existing processes, and suggest changes to the electoral management system. STEP Democracy partner International IDEA, is supporting a review of Myanmar’s Campaign Finance guidelines and Advance Voting regulations. A working group consisting of senior election officials from the UEC and International IDEA experts has been reviewing the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders, and identifying the challenges and bottlenecks in each of their tasks. International IDEA will present a report on the recommendations of the working group and suggest a framework in line with international good practices.

The UEC in workshop on Campaign Finance and Advance voting procedures. (Photo - International IDEA)

The UEC in workshop on Campaign Finance and Advance voting procedures. (Photo – International IDEA)

As part of the UEC’s review of its Advance Voting regulations, the UEC was invited to observe advance voting at the Finnish Embassy. On January 17th Finns residing in Myanmar visited their Embassy to vote from abroad in their presidential election taking place the 28th of January. The UEC delegation and the Ambassador of Finland had the chance to discuss Finland’s advance voting procedures:  including voter eligibility and how to assign votes to home constituencies. Chair U Hla Thein remarked, “Experiences like this makes us understand the difference between the electoral system in Finland and in our country. …their system is really worth learning.” Overseas voting is of particular concern for Myanmar because of its large diaspora in Thailand and other neighbouring countries.

The UEC witnessing advance voting at the Finnish Embassy. (Photo - International IDEA)

The UEC witnessing advance voting at the Finnish Embassy. (Photo – International IDEA)

While the elections of 2020 may seem far away, it is already time to start preparing for the election campaign and polling day. To start this process, International IDEA in association with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, conducted an orientation training for chairpersons and members of electoral sub-commission from states/regions, districts and townships of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Over the past few months, the Union Electoral Commission (UEC) has restructured the Electoral Sub-Commissions in all the States/Regions, Districts, and Townships of Myanmar. As a result, the Chairpersons and the Commissioners at the sub-commissions are now a mix of experienced staff and people entirely new to electoral processes. This orientation training was organized to ensure that they are ready to conduct elections competently in future. Held at Nay Pyi Taw on 9 and 10 April 2018, the training was conducted for 150 officials who learned about the UEC structure, UEC strategic plan, the electoral process in Myanmar along with laws, bylaws and working guidelines. The training was facilitated by UEC Director General, Deputy Director General and Directors and included lectures, discussion, role-play, and experimentation with mock polling stations. This training gives Myanmar a quick start on the road to 2020, and the UEC’s goal of delivering “better and better” elections.

Facilitators looking at the polling manual at the orientation training. (Photo - International IDEA)

Facilitators looking at the polling manual at the orientation training. (Photo – International IDEA)