20th Jubilee Anniversary Conference of the ACEEEO
15-18 June 2011
The ACEEEO was founded in Budapest, Hungary, with the collaboration of IFES in 1991. Six former socialist countries were present on the first symposium where these countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia) decided to set up the ACEEEO. 20 years have passed since then, and by 2010, the ACEEEO counts 24 member countries from the European region. In 2011 the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary with a conference organized in the foundation country of the Association: in Hungary. Some of the ACEEEO's partner organizations will take part of the organizational processes such as IFES (USA), Foundation for the Elections (Hungary), and the Centre for Parliamentary Studies (UK).
2011 is a special year for Hungary for other reasons as well: in the first part of the year the country will take over the presidency of the European Union. For 6 months Hungary is in the spotlight of the European Union's political and cultural life. The conference will be held in the last month of the Hungarian presidency, from 15-18 June 2011. This is an excellent opportunity for the Association and for all its member states to draw the attention of the European Union to the activities of the Association, namely to focus on the electoral activities in Europe and on the ACEEEO's member states.
This annual conference, with all the experiences of the last 20 years, first of all seeks to answer the crucial question of Independence of the Electoral Management Bodies. Participants shall discuss various aspects of the activities and/or status of independent EMBs that are indispensable guarantees of democratic, free and fair elections. Discussing the independence of the EMBs and related matters are appropriate both in the countries of East-Central Europe – those in the age of twenty count as young democracies – and in those states that have long-standing democratic traditions. The complexity of the issue, its links with governments, parties, media, etc. require careful analysis by experts on elections, political science, sociology, public law and comparative approach also. Presentations and workshops shall be made and led by internationally acknowledged election experts and other noted scholars.
The independence of the composition of the EMBs, the independence of their financial background, along with the possible independence of their everyday activities and issues related to the question of independence shall be investigated during the plenary sessions and workshops. The agenda also covers the relationship between EMBs and government authorities and, whether or not the central administration authorities can exert influence on the activities of the EMBs.
The conference also seeks answers to the role of political parties, how they should or they shouldn't interfere in organizing elections and, to what extent they should take part in the composition of electoral bodies. Discussions will cover aspects of independence in a physical sense as well (e.g. should an EMB function in a separate building or not), the legal status of staff members, whether electoral management bodies should have a control over the storage of ballot papers including their transportation to the electoral precincts, etc. Such technical questions may also be crucial in ensuring the independence of elections and the public trust in electoral processes. The independence of communication, such as for example to inform voters about the electoral returns and giving public exposure to electoral irregularities shall be presented as well, just as the role that EMBs they play in legal remedies. The conference aims to wrap up the ways that electoral committees can secure the fairness of elections in a broad sense, so to speak: ranging from the registration of voters, the setting up of candidates, the election campaign and the entire process of voting up to the period between two elections.
Beside this, two simultaneous breakaway sessions offer a deeper discussion of A) democratic guarantees of the independent EMBs and, B) in the frame of operation and activities of independent EMBs: Introduction and Usage of Voting Technologies. This second workshop will include up-to-date presentations and live conversations in regard of the newest voting technologies. Within this session the most modern technologies will be on the table to review their safety, accountability, integrity and possible ways of adaptation into existing processes. This discussion will be an excellent opportunity for vendors to explore the room of independence and best practices of the EMBs in terms of purchases. Procurement issues are equally important if we speak about the independent operations of the EMBs, and it is in the frame of this 'B Workshop' that we would like to address all concerned stakeholders who are interested in such issues. Anyone, who would like to be part of this workshop is welcomed, some places are still available to introduce your view.
As usual, a greatly organized professional exhibition of election suppliers will take place in front of the main conference hall, which is a beautiful and large space where we intend to give space for all who are interested in being there. For some sponsor package we offer presentation time on the main plenary meetings: please contact ACEEEO Secretariat if you would like to get involved to review the opportunities.
On the third conference day ACEEEO also gives the room for a BRIDGE showcase in the frame of a sub-grant where regional BRIDGE activities will be carried out with the involvement of ACEEEO member states.