At the end of the election, it is important to prepare a report which takes a holistic look at the election process with clear recommendations on how to improve the system. This report will naturally draw from the various press releases and statements of the ESR. However, it has to be more comprehensive than that to state clearly how the ESR wishes to help resolve some of the identified challenges in the system.
- Documenting the Situation Room experience:
This is highly desirable as it helps to maintain the institutional memory of the ESR when gaps between elections can be long and memory of individuals is unreliable. It gives an opportunity for peer learning and experience-sharing with groups who may want to see how the ESR functioned and the peculiar experience of a particular location. It is important that the process of documentation starts from the beginning of the ESR’s foundation to ensure that key events are adequately captured.
- Maintaining the Situation Room platform beyond elections:
What happens after elections? Should the election ESR pack up and go?
The answer is no. There will be more elections and issues identified in the ESR recommendations that need follow-up. The ESR platform can serve as a rallying point for civil society engagement on elections and other related matters. Efforts must be made to keep the ESR alive beyond elections. Some of the issues that can be engaged using the ESR platform include:
- Legislative Processes on key issues affecting good governance: By engaging the legislative process in between elections requires collaboration and information sharing amongst civil society groups. The ESR model provides a good platform for such an engagement. It will provide opportunities for proper information-gathering, unified voice for civil society and a proper forum for analysis of the legislative process, key issues and recommendations needed to ensure good governance.
- Anti-corruption campaign: Corruption is a major challenge to development in emerging democracies. Most times governments are reluctant to do the right thing and government officials are often the promoters of corruption. Engaging such a system will require evidence-based advocacy, co-ordination and information sharing amongst civil society groups.
- Budgeting processes: Much goes wrong during the budgeting processes in developing countries. Priorities are mixed up and resources are channeled to questionable projects with project cost estimates ending up bloated. Civil society groups working in this area are confronted with the challenge of tracking the budget process and collating information related to the budget for evidence-based engagement and critique. A ESR engagement model provides a useful platform for information-gathering and sharing, and also a credible analytical platform for identifying alternatives and challenges. Elections do not have much meaning unless they lead to good governance and development. That’s why the vigilance and engagement of the ESR needs to go beyond the election process. The ESR can be used, for example, to ensure implementation of government policies and laws, such as the Freedom of Information Law. The platform should be used to ensure that governance is targeted at improving the lot of the people and by extension, consolidating democracy.