On 2 October 2021, Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Election (CECOE) released its observation report on the September 30 elections and South-western Ethiopian people referendum. The 16 pages report has seven sections which expound the election process, and measures that need to be taken to rectify problems in the process.
Highlights of the report :
Arrival at Polling Stations
To assess if polling station officials got to the polling stations in time to open , CECOE observers were instructed to arrive at polling stations by 5:30 AM. Most (97%) of observers reported that when they arrived at their respective polling stations, electoral officers were present preparing to open the stations. Read more on CECOE’s website.
Opening of Polling Stations
According to the NEBE, polling stations are supposed to be open for voters from 6 AM to at least 6 PM. Recognizing the importance of observing these opening and closing times, CECOE collected information in this regard and assessed the environment in which polling stations were opened for voting. Read more on CECOE’s website.
The Voting Process
After polling stations open and are set up by electoral officers, the next integral step in the electoral process is the voting process. On 30 September 2021, most polling stations were opened by 7 AM as noted above, staying open for voting until 6 PM in polling stations across Somali and parts of the SNNP regional state where voters cast ballots for regular House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) or Regional Council elections. Read more on CECOE’s website.
The Counting Process
Counting is the final step on election day. After the closing of polling stations, electoral officersare tasked with the duty of making sure all ballots are accounted for and counting is done at polling stations except in circumstances where postponing counting is allowed by law. Read more on CECOE’s website.
Reporting on Critical Incidents
In addition to collecting data on the voting and counting process in polling stations across the three regions under CECOE’s current observation exercise, the Coalition also collected critical incidents on election day. Incident types observers are asked to look out for on election day include not being allowed to observe, the establishment of polling stations in forbidden locations, absence or shortage of electoral materials, the suspension of voting and counting and other procedural and security related issues. Read more on CECOE’s website
IDP Settlement Voting
One of the most interesting aspects of this round of voting was the decision by the NEBE to hold elections in the Qoloji IDP Settlement site, where some citizens have been displaced since 2016. Recognizing the importance of enfranchising internally displaced persons, CECOE trained and deployed seven observers including members of its assessment team to evaluate the voting and counting process in the 41 polling stations established in the Qoloji Settlement site. Read more on CECOE’s website
The Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Elections (CECOE) deployed 956 stationary and 37 mobile observers for the 30 September 2021 elections, including 7 mobile observers in IDP settlements. The coalition has observed the positive and negative aspects of the voting and counting process on 30 September 2021. Read more on CECOE’s website