Egypt: IFES Begins Electoral Reform Project in Egypt

IFES is beginning a $1.3 million project that will examine how election administration in Egypt can become more credible and effective. The project aims to expand public discussion on electoral reform and inform voters about their rights and responsibilities. The year-long project also will seek to connect and expose voters to high-level policy discussions already taking place about electoral reforms.

IFES will work with Egyptian academics, think tanks, government officials and community organizations to find areas of reform in the electoral process. The IFES team will include international comparative experts with experience managing similar electoral transitions in countries as diverse as Mexico , Eastern Europe and India .

Egypt is facing both internal and international criticism following its 2005 national elections. Those elections, particularly the parliamentary ones were marked by violence as well as reports of voter intimidation, errors in the voter registry and fraud.

Adam Schmidt , senior elections advisor for the IFES Center for Transitional and Post-Conflict Governance, said even some prominent candidates with the were unable to find their names on polling lists during the 2005 election.

“The administrative breakdown of the election process is so severe that there now is a growing consensus among those in government and the opposition that there needs to be some level of reform,” he said. Egyptian voters would benefit from the establishment of a transparent, independent electoral commission, an updated voter registry and a voter education campaign.

IFES began working in Egypt last year with a project that brought together 10 Egyptian nongovernmental organizations into a coalition that promotes voter education. IFES also worked with the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies to organize and present three seminars on electoral reform issues.