With Iraq’s next parliamentary elections scheduled for October 10, this five-part series highlights the critical voter education and mobilization work that IRI’s partners throughout the country are undertaking. Against a flood of misinformation about Iraq’s electoral system and how ballots are cast and counted, Iraqi citizens distrust many political institutions that have promised to deliver a better future. Through our programs, IRI works with committed civic organizers and democracy-focused civil society organizations that seek to encourage voter turnout and educate voters about their rights, responsibilities, and the democratic framework under which they live. Here is the fourth of five columns highlighting citizen empowerment ahead of the October 2021 elections.
Master Trainers & the Independent High Electoral Commission in Ninewa: A Partnership to Amplify Media Coverage of Election Preparations
Mohammed, a 32-year-old Master Trainer (MT) from Ninewa, has worked diligently to increase participation in the upcoming elections by hosting community sessions as well as public dialogues held jointly with the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). Throughout this project, IRI has sought to increase Mohammed and his fellow MTs’ capacity to use social media outreach techniques, develop motivational scripts, and film educational videos. Mohammed expressed enthusiasm and interest in learning these tools and techniques for himself but also in sharing this new knowledge with the local IHEC office in Ninewa, as he observed that IHEC has continually struggled with their public outreach efforts. Understanding this, Mohammed has made efforts to foster a close relationship with the Ninewa IHEC office and has worked closely with the office’s media manager to develop their media outreach program. He has also shared suggestions and guidance on how the IHEC office can modernize their media outreach.
Mohammed suggested that instead of reinventing the wheel, the IHEC office should take advantage of the motivational videos created by him, the other MTs, and IRI. The IHEC office in Ninewa followed his advice and began to amplify the content created through IRI’s Our Vote, Our Voice program (screenshots below). Mohammed then went a step further and volunteered to create a simulated video of the voting process using the IHEC office space and its voting equipment. Once the video was finalized, the IHEC office published it on their social media pages. Mohammed’s commitment to using the knowledge and skills he gained through IRI workshops to help support IHEC in their public outreach efforts is noteworthy and highlights how the cohort of MTs is willing to go above-and-beyond to get Iraqis to the polls on October 10, 2021. Additionally, this highlights IHEC’s willingness to work in collaboration with the MTs and welcome their unique perspectives and guidance.