Civic and voter’s education

Voter education represents the action of disseminating information, materials and programmes designed to inform voters about the specifics and mechanics of the voting process for a particular election. It basically is providing citizens with basic information about participating in elections, which focuses on how to vote rather than for who to vote.

Voter education mostly handover citizens with the knowledge of how to register to vote, how to complete ballot papers and the electoral system generally. Based on the electoral system in one’s country, who is eligible to vote; where and how to register to vote; how electors can check the voter lists to ensure they have been duly included; what type of elections are being held; where, when and how to vote; who the candidates are; and how to file complaints are the issues that will be addressed by voter education.

The main goal of voter education is directed to ensuring all potential voters are equipped with the necessary knowledge about specific elections in order to exercise their right to vote to the fullest and understand the entire electoral processes. An effective voter education helps potential voters understand their rights, their political system, the contests they are being asked to decide, how and where to vote and  to participate meaningfully in the voting process.

Voter education should reach out and be accessible to all electorate constituents equally; men and women, disadvantaged groups as well as mainstream voters. Special factors and scenarios also should be considered during voter education, such as high rates of illiteracy or the use of different languages in a country, the inclusion of minority groups, internally displaced persons and other marginalised segments of society and consideration of young adults eligible to vote for the first time. Effective voter education campaigns start early and continue throughout the election process. 

Voter education is often provided by the state itself, often through a national electoral commission, CSOs and institutions whose mission it is to strengthen democratic values by increasing voter education. 

CECOE’s voter education – IVOTE campaign 

CECOE has been engaged on voter education in the past elections- The IVote digital voter education campaign which reached several million Ethiopians. The IVote campaign has goals on promoting active participation of citizens at all stages of the election cycles, avail timely information to citizens on election activities and prevent pre & post election conflicts. Several TV and Radio stations have been used for Ivote messages to transfer. It reached over 25 million online users and 40 million citizens using mainstream media outlets in its voter information and education program.

During the SNNPR Referendum, CECOE was also able to solicit funds for 8 member CSOs operating in the SNNPR to provide voter education.Using the funds they got, the CSOs have been providing voter education for two  months. The voter education reached out to all zones and special woredas where the referendum took place.