Advocacy Success Story: CECOE’s Effort in Improving Voter Education 

Advocacy Success Story: CECOE’s Effort in Improving Voter Education 

The 6th Ethiopian general elections witnessed increased civil society participation in voter education activities following the repeal of restrictive laws. However, the report from the NDI-IRI Limited International Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia (LEOME)1 pointed out that most civil society organizations (CSOs) began their voter education activities only in the final weeks of voter registration. This timing had a detrimental effect on the impact of their initiatives in their respective communities. Recognizing this issue, following the conclusion of the 6th general elections, CECOE conducted an assessment titled “Voter Education Activities by Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations During the Sixth Ethiopian General Elections.”2 to identify challenges in voter education, assess its role in raising awareness and participation, analyze communication methods, measure the effectiveness of creative channels and technologies, and evaluate CSO program reach and efficacy. On April 7, 2022, CECOE organized a validation workshop to discuss the findings of the assessment.  Nearly 50 participants from across the region, including NEBE representatives, attended the workshop. The assessment identified the late February 2021 accreditation by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) as the root cause of the problem. With limited time remaining, CSOs faced challenges in applying for donor funds and planning activities, resulting in a rushed and less effective voter education campaign. These findings aligned with the NDI-IRI Limited Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia (LEOME) report, further reinforcing the issue.

From Observations to Advocacy

CECOE didn’t stop at highlighting the problem. CECOE developed a commentary titled “Support for Civil Society Organizations Engaged in the Provisions of Voter Education Needs Improvement.”3 This commentary presented a clear solution: The commentary advocated for two options: permanent accreditation for qualified organizations, or significantly earlier accreditation cycles before elections.

A Permanent Solution

CECOE’s advocacy efforts have borne fruit. NEBE has started a permanent accreditation for CSOs engaged in voter education which empowers CSOs to plan and execute comprehensive voter education programs well in advance.

Looking Forward

CECOE commends NEBE’s decision and considers it a significant advocacy success. While recognizing this success, CECOE is dedicated to advocating for other unresolved issues. This success underscores the vital role of civil society advocacy, as CECOE strives to positively impact the electoral process in Ethiopia through research, strategic communication, and unwavering commitment.

  1. ↩︎
  2. ↩︎
  3. ↩︎