HONOLULU (Nov. 8, 2012) -- For a number of years the East-West Center, with support from the U.S. Department of State, has fielded multinational election observation teams to learn about and offer suggestions for improving the ways in which elections are conducted in various Asia Pacific nations.
This year, for the first time, the Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program hosted a multinational group of election officials and journalists and during the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The program sought to provide participants with first-hand knowledge and experience of America’s national, state and local electoral systems through direct observation and interaction with a diverse range of individuals engaged in the electoral process.
The participants included:
- Ms. Maria Goretti Belo, Deputy General Director, Secretariado Técnico de Administração Eleitoral, Timor-Leste
- Mr. Ioane Burese, Chief of Staff, Fiji Times
- Ms. Asenaca Kolinivala, Acting Senior Electoral Officer, Fiji Elections Office
- Ms. Belinda Kora, News Director, PNG FM Limited, Papua New Guinea
- Mrs. Salote Sisifa, Senior Journalist, Radio and Television Tonga
The program began with an orientation to Hawai‘i and presentations by scholars on how the U.S. electoral system has evolved over time, with particular attention to the presidential election method. Subsequent sessions included practitioners explaining how the media is involved in the electoral process and the role of debates, as well as visits to government and party election offices.
The group also spent time with elected officials and candidates from both major political parties. On Election Day they made trips to numerous polling sites as citizens cast their ballots, observed how votes are tabulated at the Hawai‘i State Capital, and joined gatherings of candidates and their supporters as they received news of the election outcomes. After the election, the participants met to discuss their observations and insights, and shared their analyses with East-West Center students and staff at a panel presentation.