United Kingdom (Commonwealth Union)_ The Commonwealth Secretariat conducted a special workshop for Caribbean and Americas election administrators in Trinidad and Tobago this week, focusing on issues related to electoral credibility, transparency, and inclusiveness in order to enhance confidence in the democratic process. Conducted in Port-of-Spain in collaboration with Trinidad and Tobago’s Elections and Boundaries Commission, the week-long workshop gathered 21 election administrators from nine election administration bodies. The objective was to facilitate the exchange of experiences and lessons learned in improving electoral credibility and transparency in their respective jurisdictions.
While inaugurating the workshop, Mark Ramkerrysingh, Chairman of Trinidad and Tobago’s Elections and Boundaries Commission, emphasized the critical significance of the workshop in promoting the effective functioning of electoral bodies, especially in the face of misinformation that undermines public trust in democracy. According to him, “Greater efficiency and transparency can blunt the impact of such misinformation on the electorate … The issues of integrity, inclusion, transparency and leadership, efficiency, and effectiveness which are the themes of this training will lead to more rounded election professionals and, therefore, a strengthening of the election management body itself.”
Linford Andrews, Head of the Commonwealth’s Electoral Support Section, echoed the Chairman’s sentiments. He said, “This workshop serves as a valuable forum for the exchange of experience in delivering electoral processes in these exceptionally challenging times and the sharing of emerging good practice.” He also highlighted that this workshop was part of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s ongoing efforts to reinforce democracy and build confidence in electoral processes within the Caribbean region.
According to Shanis Lawrence, Senior Clerk at Dominica’s Electoral Office, “This week has been important for us. We have been able to listen and learn from other election management bodies from the region about the steps [which] they have taken to make their electoral processes more credible, transparent, and inclusive. We will do our best to take this home and put it into practice.” In addition to the workshop, the Commonwealth Secretariat also organized a hybrid panel discussion, attended by more than 40 election administrators from the region.
The discussion gathered Chief Election Officers from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago and exchanged views on the role of leadership in establishing and sustaining trust in the electoral process. The workshop is part of the Commonwealth Election Professionals initiative, a multi-year project sponsored by the Australian government that aims to provide professional development opportunities to election administrators across the Commonwealth. Moreover, over 250 election professionals from 48 Commonwealth election management organizations have gained from regional workshops since 2013, with the workshop in Trinidad and Tobago being the fourth one held in the Caribbean and Americas region.