election observation – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:33:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.14 Young Europeans observing Estonian elections with record turnout /estonian-election-observation/ Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:36:06 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1294 March 1, 2015: Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) Elections

At the end of February AEGEE-Europe deployed 22 observers to Tallinn in order to cover the thirteenth parliamentary election of the republic of Estonia. The mission’s primary aim was to observe the elections and give a general assessment. In pairs of two, the observers visited over 60 polling stations located in Tallinn, its surroundings and in the country’s second city, Harju county and Tartu. Unique to Estonia is the possibility to vote online, but given the specifics involved, the mission limited themselves itself to observation of the standard procedure in which ballot papers are used.

Our overall assessment is that the Riigikogu elections were very well organized, from the opening of the polling stations to the closing and counting procedures. Taking into account previous experiences of the observers group, they were impressed by the organisation, conduct and good will observed during these elections. Isolated procedural irregularities were noticed, as well as some inconsistencies concerning counting and sealing procedures. 

There were some misunderstandings between members of the Polling Stations and our observers. This was mainly due to a lack of awareness on the side of the PEC members of what observation means and what observers do. All these irregularities were few and far between and they were not in any way intentional. Any irregularities on behalf of the voters were handled quickly, calmly and professionally, in accordance to the protocols.

In Estonia, there is a significant Russian-speaking minority. Observers were curious as to how and if this would influence the elections. Some of the observers were deployed in areas were Russian speakers are very numerous and others were deployed in predominantly Estonian regions. It was interesting to see if any visible differences between voting procedures in these regions were observed. Observations differed from region to region. Principally, the election materials are only available in Estonian. Only in a few cases Russian election materials were observed.  However, most of the PEC members had a sufficient knowledge of the Russian language and were willing to help or assist when necessary.

A high degree of helpfulness from PEC members was encountered. None of the members of the election observation mission were impeded in their observations and as such they had a clear view of the procedures in the Polling Stations.

Taking everything observed into account, we as AEGEE-Europe’s observers state that the parliamentary elections of the first of March, 2015 were remarkably well organised, transparent and conducted in an attentive and helpful manner.

Report written by Lev Murynets and Marieke Walraven on behalf of the Election Observation Project of AEGEE-Europe

Picture by Thomas Leszke.

European students cast a critical eye on Moldovan parliamentary elections /election-observation-moldova/ Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:26:56 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1202

On the weekend of the 30th of November AEGEE-Europe deployed 22 young observers to the parliamentary elections in Moldova. In pairs of two the observers visited around 50 polling stations,  that were spread out across different neighborhoods of Chisinau.

During all stages of election day (opening, voting, closing and counting) no major irregularities were observed. In general everything was well organized, all necessary materials were present and stations opened and closed on time. A big number of international and national (partisan) observers were present.

However AEGEE-Europe observers noted some procedural irregularities.  Due to the failure of the national online voter registration system, the registration process slowed down. This resulted in overcrowded polling stations which made it more difficult to guarantee the transparency of the voting process. In addition to this, the execution of the procedures differed between the polling stations due to the interpretation of polling station officials.

Picture by Stefan van Belzen

Furthermore, in several cases partisan observers did not respect their role and interfered. This was noted especially during the counting procedure. At times they touched ballots, their opinion was included in the decision making about validity of votes and their physical presence obstructed the counting process.

Regarding the voters, it was observed that the percentage of men and women voting was more or less equal. In most areas the majority of voters can be considered middle aged or elderly, young voters were observed mostly in the university districts. Among voters, it was not always clear how to cast their vote; they didn’t always know where to fill in the ballot paper, how to fold it and where to put it afterwards. Some cases of group voting were observed.  In both these cases members of the polling station proved to be very helpful or strict if needed.

Taking everything observed into account, AEGEE-Europe observers state that the parliamentary elections of the 30th November in Moldova were well organized, transparent but the procedures weren’t always executed correctly.

]]> Contributing to democracy in Europe – AEGEE observing the Bosnian elections /elections-aegee-bih/ Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:32:29 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1182 On 12th of October 2014, 17 student members of AEGEE-Europe from 7 different countries were observing the general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Country is divided into two different entities, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS), of which both were visited. The observers, in teams of two, visited 45 rural and urban polling stations in district Sarajevo.

Minor irregularities were noticed in five polling stations, for example usage of wrongly coloured ballot box sealing, overcrowding of the polling station and voting outside the voting booth.

The complexity of the constitutional set up of Bosnia and Herzegovina is reflected in its electoral system. There were four different ballots comprising majority and preference voting. On national level (RS and FBiH), citizens voted for the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency and the House of Representatives of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliamentary Assembly. In FBiH citizens voted for the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament and the Cantonal Assemblies. However, in RS, people voted for President, Vice President and the National Assembly. Because of this system, reading through the ballots was a lengthy process and each individual voting could take up to several minutes.

However, the commitment of polling station officials was remarkable. Counting procedures generally went on until the early morning up to 24 hours. Polling station officials were composed equally with regard to gender and consisted mostly of young people. Their performance was observed by approximately 4 to 12 domestic party observers, who were mainly young as well. In contrast, younger voters were underrepresented.

The election observers’ overall impression on the polling process was very positive. We would like to thank OSCE and the Central Election Commission for the successful cooperation.

Report written by Jan Liebnitzky and Boudewijn Steenhof on behalf of all the 17 observers.

Pictures by Thomas Leszke and Marije Arentze.