What We Do.

Democratic
Elections

Elections on the African continent have evolved considerably over the course of the last 30 years. Elections have grown from being characterised by one-party systems to being characterised by multiparty systems.

What We Do.

Democratic
Elections

Elections on the African continent have evolved considerably over the course of the last 30 years. Elections have grown from being characterised by one-party systems to being characterised by multiparty systems.

The context within which elections are taking place is transforming rapidly and emerging technologies provide new opportunities for stakeholders in the democratic landscape, but they also present a new array of democratic and human rights challenges. Strong protections for democratic freedoms are necessary to ensure that the new technologies will not be used by oppressive regimes to undo democratic gains.

The Elections and Political Processes (EPP) programme at EISA focuses on supporting regional, sub-regional and national stakeholders to foster inclusive, peaceful, and credible elections.

EISA provides support to inter-governmental bodies, civil society and electoral commissions through election assessment and electoral assistance initiatives.

Apart from conducting its own election observation missions, EISA works on election observation with organisations such as the African Union, African Regional Economic Communities, as well as on citizen observation, political party poll watching, and electoral reform on the national level.

Elections Support

Our Approach

There are many phases to the electoral process: in an election, for example, these include:

  • the design and drafting of legislation
  • the recruitment and training of electoral staff
  • electoral planning
  • voter registration
  • the registration of political parties
  • the nomination of parties and candidates
  • the electoral campaign
  • polling
  • counting
  • the tabulation of results
  • the declaration of results
  • the resolution of electoral disputes
  • reporting
  • auditing and archiving
  • electoral reforms.

 

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After the end of one electoral process, it is desirable for work on the next to begin: the whole process can be described as the electoral cycle.

EISA works across Africa, in selected countries, and with selected institutions and bodies. At the continental level, EISA is a technical partner to the African Union (AU) in its electoral assistance support and assessment missions to Member States.

Similarly, at the sub-regional level, EISA provides technical support to Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to execute their electoral assistance and assessment mandates in their respective Member States. EISA’s support to RECs is hinged on its recognition of the important role these institutions play in promoting peace on the continent through their electoral engagements in their Member States. The AU works with RECs based on the principle of subsidiarity which gives priority to the RECs in political, peace and security issues. EISA therefore considers its support to these sub-regional institutions as crucial to the achievement of a peaceful and democratic continent. The RECs are dynamic in their structures and mandate and the regions they cover in sub-Saharan Africa are equally as dynamic. These are the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and two specialized institutions namely the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. EISA’s support to RECs is demand-driven and tailored to the needs of the individual RECs.

At the national level, EISA works with different national electoral stakeholders such as Electoral Management Bodies, civil society organisations, national parliaments or assemblies and political parties. Working at national level enables EISA to draw lessons that remain useful for its engagements with the AU, RECs and its own regional and sub-regional programmes.

Elections Observation

Missions

EISA’s Election Observation Missions bring representatives of civil society organisations, election management bodies, political parties, academic institutions, and the media from African countries together to observe elections.


These missions have proven very useful as they have allowed election stakeholders across the region to remain involved in election work during the period in-between elections as well as giving the participants a comparative perspective on electoral processes and models. This helps them to build their knowledge and hence gain the required confidence to engage in reform initiatives in their own countries.

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Technical Assessment Missions (TAMs)

Comprised of election experts mostly drawn from EISA staff for the primary purpose of documenting critical electoral processes in countries where it is not deploying fully-fledged missions that can effectively cover election day processes. As part of its election documentation initiatives, EISA introduced the conduct of Pre-election Assessment Missions (PAMs) in 2012.

Pre-election Assessment Mission (PAMs)

Reports findings constitute a basis for the advisory and technical support EISA provides to its partners, including the African Union, Regional economic communities, Electoral management bodies and Parties and civil society.

Election Observation

Election Observation reports and statements publicise information on the conduct of the electoral processes countries where EISA has deployed EOMs. International benchmarks for conduct and monitoring of elections used in assessing elections observed.

Post-election Follow-up Mission

EISA has developed a post-election follow-up methodology to assess how far the Election Observation Missions’ recommendations are considered to improve the quality of the electoral processes by doing the required and necessary electoral reform. The methodology is also shared with its institutional partners.

Elections Observation

Innovation & Technologies

eisa what we do democratic elections popola tool transparent democratic governance in africa
POPOLA

The Popola system is an open-source data collection and management system that allows for the collection, collation and analysis of data in real time. Popola refers to the act of zooming in or scrutinising and is derived from the Nguni.

 

The system is extremely flexible and has been adapted to suit the needs of a wide range of stakeholders such as election observers, political parties and researchers and has been used for diverse field operations, including:

  • the observation of voter registration, vote counting and vote aggregation;
  • parallel vote tabulation; and
  • audits, surveys, as well as monitoring and evaluation.

Using polling observation as an example, data obtained in the field on Election Day is sent electronically to the database from which reports can be immediately generated, providing the EOM leadership a clear picture of what was observed. These reports then form the basis for the writing up of a preliminary statement and the final report.

eisa what we do democratic elections election integrity tool transparent democratic governance in africa
Election Integrity tool

EISA's Online Integrity Tool seeks to enable observer groups to conduct a qualitative assessment of the different elements of the electoral cycle as a basis for developing a balanced and comprehensive assessment of an electoral process.

This is because, in the course of its electoral support work, EISA recognised discrepancies in the quality of assessments undertaken by different observer groups and variations among regional and sub-regional election assessment instruments.

The toolkit was initially designed to support the Africa Union as well as other regional communities in their efforts to promote democracy on the African continent through election and assessment initiatives. To this end, this has led EISA to develop an election integrity assessment scorecard that seeks to:

  • Further contribute to improving electoral democracy strengthening in Africa.
  • Enable observer groups to analyse all aspects of the electoral cycle.
  • Enable observer groups to make and issue a balanced qualitative assessment of the integrity of a given electoral process.

The toolkit does this by:

  • Providing a checklist on election with several components.
  • Providing the basis for developing a balanced qualitative overall assessment of an electoral process.
  • Providing the qualitative scoring of the different elements of the electoral cycle.
  • Automatically calculating the integrity of an electoral process using formulas but based on international standards for credible elections.
  • Building knowledge on electoral processes and as well as popularising international and regional standard for democratic elections

The toolkit was piloted for use during EISA's Technical Assessment Mission in Zambia's 2021 General elections and was again used by EISA's Election Observation Mission for The Gambia's Presidential elections in December of that year.

Latest Publications

We strive to strengthen governance institutions in their mandate to promote open, inclusive and democratic societies.