International election observers have called on politicians defeated in Kenya’s fiercely contested polls to concede gracefully without taking their struggle to the streets. The statements by delegations from the EU, the African Union and the US came as opposition groups accused electoral officials of hiding the true results of Tuesday’s elections, which they said showed their leader, Raila Odinga, had won by 300,000 votes. Provisional results released by Kenya’s election commission have put the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, ahead by 54.2% of votes counted, to 44% for Odinga. A final verified declaration of results based on returns signed by agents from all parties at polling stations and constituencies is expected on Friday.
Papua New Guinea: ‘Make election less disruptive’, pleads commissioner ahead of PNG ballot | Asia Pacific Report
More than 800 election monitors will be deployed nationwide to observe and make independent reports on Papua New Guinea’s national election starting this Saturday. Electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato says international and local monitors will report back to their respective organisations, heads of governments and the government itself on the credibility of the PNG election process. “We have invited international election monitors or observers to visit during the months of June and July to see whether we have planned well for the election and also see if we followed the rule of law and the election laws on conducting the 2017 national election,” Gamato said in a statement.
Albania’s political leaders on Thursday failed for the second time to reach a compromise as the opposition has boycotted the parliament and the June 18 parliamentary election. Following intensive meetings with Western diplomats, Prime Minister Edi Rama, leader of the Socialist Party, and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party met again Thursday night. Rama said the government offered direct monitoring of the voting with a task force of opposition representatives accompanied by monitors from the European Union, the United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
International election monitors have criticized a Turkish referendum that has brought sweeping new powers to the presidency, saying the campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and that the vote count was marred by late procedural changes. Observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a joint statement on April 17 that the legal framework for the referendum “remained inadequate for the holding of a genuinely democratic referendum.” Turkey’s Central Election Committee (CEC) late on April 16 declared the “yes” camp as the winner with 51.3 percent of votes.
Up to 2.5 million votes could have been manipulated in Sunday’s Turkish referendum which ended in a tight ‘Yes’ vote for greater presidential powers, Alev Korun, an Austrian member of the Council of Europe observer mission, told ORF radio on Tuesday. The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, had already said the referendum was an uneven contest. Support for “Yes” dominated campaign coverage, and the arrests of journalists and closure of media outlets silenced other views, the monitors said. But Korun said there were questions about the actual voting as well.
This year’s presidential election will be the first in a half-century without the significant presence of federal observers at polling places. That’s because in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and when the court wiped out that section, the statute that provided for election observers went, too. The landmark decision in Shelby County v. Holder doesn’t mean civil rights officials are totally disarmed. The Justice Department will still send out “hundreds” of “monitors” to oversee Election Day compliance. But the number is smaller than it was before, and monitors can only enter the polling place if local officials agree. Observers, by contrast, had a statutory right to be inside polling places. They were trained specifically for the task. There also were many more of them, and they had far more authority than monitors.
As the election draws closer and the race narrows, there are rising concerns about the integrity of the vote count. For one congressman, that means having more federal observers at polling stations come November. Rep. John Lewis, (D) of Georgia, brings a lifetime of commitment to voting rights to the 2016 election. He was a leader in the civil rights movement and later directed the Voter Education Program, which added 4 million minority voters to election rolls during his tenure. During a roundtable on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he expressed concern about voter ID laws and decried what he described as, “a deliberate, persistent, systematic effort to make it … more difficult for the disabled, students, seniors, minorities, for poor and rural voters to participate in the democratic process.” Representative Lewis says that having federal election observers in Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and maybe other southern states would help prevent discrimination and intimidation. But a change to the Voting Rights Act means that the Justice Department no longer determines which states get election observers. Instead, a federal court has to rule that they are required.
Seychelles: International observers call for reform of electoral commission and regular revision of voter register | Seychelles News Agency
International observers monitoring the Seychelles’ sixth National Assembly election have called for the reform of the electoral commission and regular revision of the voter register for a more credible election. Three international observer missions — SADC-Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) and an all-women mission from the African Union — presented their preliminary reports Monday. “We find that there is a general lack of confidence in the electoral commission by a range of stakeholders, particularly the opposition and civil society,” said Augustine Mahiga, the head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission. Mahiga said that Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, should consider implementing policy measures to improve confidence in the electoral commission.
Seychelles: International, local observer missions gear up for parliamentary elections | Seychelles News Agency
Two international observer groups – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) — have so far confirmed their presence in Seychelles for parliamentary elections set for September 8-10. Two local observer groups — Citizens Democracy Watch Seychelles (CDWS) and the Association for Rights, Information and Democracy (ARID) — are also gearing up for the polls. Headed by the Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine P Mahinga, the SADC observer mission was launched on Friday at the Avani resort on the western side of the Seychelles main island, Mahé. Dr Mahinga said that the SADC mission is being guided by the revised SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, adopted in 2015.
As we near another historic presidential election, the fog of anxiety about the election is returning on a scale we haven’t seen in decades. Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that the general election may be “rigged” nationwide. He has called on his supporters to monitor the polls on Election Day, and said that voting locations should “have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.” Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, doubled down on Trump’s suggestions, telling a New Hampshire audience that “the integrity of ‘one person, one vote’ is at the core of democracy, and that happens one precinct at a time.” Trump and Pence are partly correct: There is great value in having elections monitored. Poll watching helps to preserve an open, transparent democratic process by ensuring that elections are administered in a manner that protects access while inviting scrutiny. Poll observers can ensure the law is followed, provide support for voters and poll workers in navigating often confusing and ever-evolving election regulations. But in nearly a decade of organizing vote-monitoring efforts around the country, I have seen firsthand how volunteer monitors—often positioned as “challengers” at the polls—can intimidate and harass even the most seasoned poll workers and voters, interfere with the process, delay voting, and potentially alter the election’s outcome.