Mongolian Civil Society Observes Elections for the First Time

In keeping with Mongolia’s effort to progressively improve the quality of elections since its transition to democracy in 1990, the General Election Commission (GEC), for the first time, allowed local civil society groups to observe the June 2012 parliamentary elections. Their efforts added to increased transparency and helped ensure the elections reflected the will of the Mongolian people.

“Local independent monitoring of elections is crucial for the transparency of the democratic process,” said Dr. T. Burenjargal, Director of the Social Policy and Development Research Institute, a Mongolian civil society group and partner of the International Republican Institute (IRI).

This is our first time observing elections, without the international trainer and seminars provided by IRI we would not have known what to look for.

In addition to allowing civil society observers, the GEC also added national voter identification cards with fingerprint recognition, used electronic vote tabulation machines for the first time to minimize fraud during vote counting and speed up reporting of results, and installed web cams in polling stations to allow web monitoring by the public in order to increase transparency.

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development, IRI trained people representing 45 different Mongolian civil society groups. International election experts lead training seminars in the capitol of Ulaanbaatar and two others in the aimags (provinces) of Durnogobi and Umnugobi. The seminars were held in cooperation with GEC and covered topics such as a review of Mongolian Election law provisions, rights and responsibility of election observers, identification of common types of voting irregularities and how to write election observation reports. In addition to these trainings, IRI contributed to voter education by producing an election guide on how to correctly vote using the new ballots for the electronic vote tabulation machines. IRI distributed more than 45,000 copies of the guide in Bulgan, Darkhan-Uul, Dornogobi, Orkhon, Selenge, Tuv and Umnugobi aimags and in six districts of Ulaanbaatar.

The Mongolian groups are now writing their reports and will publicly present their findings to the GEC doing their part to continue to improve the voting process in anticipation of the presidential election scheduled for May 2013.

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