Recruitment of election authority staff that is transparent, efficient, and equitable should instill public confidence in the body.
- State Parties shall adopt procedures for selection and recruitment into the public service and administration that shall be based on principles of competition, merit, equity and transparency.
- Transparency in operational and financial management lays out for public scrutiny the decisions and reasoning of the EMB. Transparency is a basic good practice for all EMB activities. It can assist an EMB to combat perceptions of and identify actual financial or electoral fraud, lack of competence or favouritism towards particular political tendencies, and can enhance the requirement that the EMB inform the public of its activities...
- The members of the an electoral commission should be persons of integrity and high standing in the community. They should be—and be seen to be—competent and independent of the government of the day and of all political parties. They should understand and by their acts demonstrate the duty to be impartial and fair-minded in the organization of a free and fair election, and be responsible to the needs of political parties and the public for the timely release of information on the electoral processes” … “The appointments procedures should be carefully considered by the framers of the Constitution, so as to avoid giving the ruling party for the time being complete or undue control over the selection and appointments process. Opposition parties should be entitled to participate in the process of selection and appointment of members of an electoral commission.
- Independence of an electoral commission also implies that the commission should enjoy full and complete control over the selection appointment and dismissal of its staff (including all election officers).
- Election commissions should be established in an independent and impartial manner. In most cases, this should mean that they include pluralist representation from a balance of political parties. In countries where there is sufficient confidence in the electoral process, commissions could also be drawn from respected, neutral, and experienced individuals, including members of the judiciary. Members should not be subject to arbitrary removal.
- The Electoral Law should empower the Electoral Commission to recruit and dismiss its own support staff on the basis of professionalism and competence rather than getting seconded staff from Ministries and Departments. Such staff have no loyalty to the Electoral Commission.
- While the formal legal framework is a necessity and should be firmly in place at all times, the persons appointed to positions on that body must be respected for their impartiality and competence” … “In order to demonstrate its commitment to fairness and impartiality, an election management body must choose its staff and election officers carefully, giving political parties an opportunity to object to any person who is believed to be unsuitable to perform the duties of an election officer.
- Electoral commissions should consist of representatives from different political parties and minority populations.
- Confidence in the system may be inspired, at least initially, by ensuring equitable political representation in the commission or equivalent body, but it can also lead to weak and ineffective administration.
- Members of the electoral body should be appointed in a manner that ensures the confidence of public and political parties alike; they should be served by a secretariat accountable entirely to them.
- The legal framework should ensure that the method of selecting election commission members is impartial. Additionally, it is suggested the members’ terms be staggered to provide continuity in the work of successive commissions. The method of selecting commission members should be open and transparent. The legal framework should also specify the grounds and process for removal of a member. The law should contain provision designed to foster the independence and impartiality of members, including provision protecting members from arbitrary removal and providing immunity in connection with the performance of legal duties. The law should also specify the rights of reach member of the commission, including the right to receive timely and adequate notice of meetings, the right of access to all commission documents, and the right to participate in all commission meetings.
- The commissioners should be selected by a panel of judges set up by the Chief Justice or the equivalent, on the basis of the individual’s caliber, stature, public respect, competence, impartiality and their knowledge of elections and political development processes. The selection of commissioners should be done in consultation with all political parties and other interested stakeholders. The selected commissioners are to be approved by Parliament.
- In practice, the election machinery can either be impartial, or in balance; if impartial members who enjoy the confidence of all parties cannot be found, then balance must be created by the appointment of party representatives.
- The electoral law should seek to strengthen the autonomy of the management structure by ensuring that the appointments procedure delivers persons of high standing who have a proven sense of fairness and impartiality. The senior members of management (e.g., members of the electoral or constituency boundaries commission) should be answerable to parliament and not to the prime minister or president, as the head of government. The members’ tenure of office should be secure and their removal should be governed by clearly stipulated procedures, possibly requiring a resolution by the national assembly, not dissimilar to those applicable to the removal from office of a supreme court judge.” … “The electoral law should be designed in a manner so as to ensure that appointments at all levels in the electoral system are aimed at selecting people who are honest, impartial and efficient.
- Political parties must be equally represented on electoral commissions or must be able to observe the work of the impartial body. Equality may be construed strictly or on a proportional basis (see point I.2.3.b).
- Security of tenure of electoral commissioner should be entrenched in eh constitutions of the SADC countries.
- The independence of a central election commission is enhanced if it is composed or respected and suitably qualified individuals and nominated by a balance of interests. It should be able to implement the election legislation and regulations without interference, intimidation, or impediments to its duty. The administering body could also be made up of balance of representatives nominated by political parties. The balance of party representatives can serve as a check on potential misadministration or abuse of office, particularly if parties are represented at all levels of the election administration. If political-party nominees constitute election commissions, they should be prohibited from campaigning and should be able to act independently without fear of retribution or recall.
- The experience of Commonwealth observer groups strongly suggests…that any system which does not adequately involve political parties in the appointment of individual Election Commissioners, courts losing the confidence of key political players and so losing at least a degree of the integrity of the process as a whole.
- In order to build confidence and encourage minority participation in elections, members of minorities should be included in election commissions…The selection process for appointing electoral commissioners should be transparent and impartial. Ideally, the selection should be based on a consensus of the political parties contesting the elections and be individuals with the relevant experience and expertise and who also have a reputation for independence and integrity. The use of internationally recognized or prominent persons which would also include prominent members of civil society has also been proven in countries where there has been conflict or a breakdown of trust between the parties.
- Appropriate staff with specialised skills are required to organise elections. Members of central electoral commissions should be legal experts, political scientists, mathematicians or other people with a good understanding of electoral issues.
- It is submitted that an electoral commission would be better served if its members were not associated with any political party and were chosen by an independent body of high standing, such as the Judicial Services Commission of the country concerned.
- Whatever the legal basis for the establishment of an electoral body, its members should be appointed in a manner which ensures that they enjoy the confidence of both public and political parties alike. The electoral body and its members should be subject only to the Constitution and the law of the land; they should be removable only for cause; and ideally they should not be persons whose further career advancement may be dependent on their performance on the electoral body. They should be served by a secretariat accountable entirely to the electoral body. Accountability of the electoral body directly to Parliament is preferable to accountability through the executive government.
- Consideration should be given to appointing independent persons known within the society for their integrity. It is recommended that at least one of the commissioners should be a person who holds or has held high judicial office (a high court or supreme court judge)...Appointment and dismissal procedures should be clearly articulated and the process undertaken in a manner that is impartial, accountable and transparent. These procedures should also take into account the need to ensure institutional continuity.
- It is essential that in terms of the composition or body, that there is appropriate national minority representation. This would apply to all of the approaches detailed above, although it would be hard to achieve if the electoral body is located within a government ministry. Notwithstanding this, if the body should be located within a government ministry, then there should be sufficient representation and transparency to ensure that national minorities not only play a role in the making and transparency to ensure that national minorities not only play a role in the making of decisions, but that all decisions and the reason therefore should be made public. This participation of minorities, where appropriate, in the composition of the commission at a senior level should be replicated to ensure that there is minority participation and representation at every level of the electoral administration, form national to local. In communities where individual and voters will interact with representatives of the electorate administration it is particularly important for minority groups to be represented and included in the administration. In addition, the principles of transparency and impartiality are important in allaying the fears and concerns of minorities.
- Where possible, professionals familiar with the electoral framework of a country should be appointed to administer a country’s elections. A common provision requires that at least some members of EMBs, at every level, have a background or training in law. Such a provision is reasonable but may present a problem for lower-level bodies and polling stations. EMBs comprising political party representatives also have advantages and disadvantages. Provision such as those requiring that EMB membership must include party representatives or judges, who are ultimately appointed by the incumbent party, obviously will impact on an EMB’s independence and impartiality. Generally, people have political credibility, such as members of civil society or those from the judiciary, might be more suitable for appointment to the EMB. Any conflict of interest, especially where the EMB is party-based, should be disclosed by the appointment of members in advance. The age of retirement for the members of the EMB should at least be same as for a judge of the highest court of that country, although retired judges could also be considered for these positions.