PACE and the 2015 Elections
The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE), founded in 2014, is an independent civil society initiative dedicated to securing every citizen’s political rights and enhancing electoral transparency and accountability through citizen observation of electoral processes,
civic education and public outreach, and advocacy for an improved electoral framework. PACE was established to engage the 2015 elections in the short term and to establish a formal election focused organization which will be able to engage the whole electoral process in Myanmar in the long term.
For the first time in Myanmar’s history, civil society organizations (CSOs) were legally able to observe the conduct of the elections. 11,445 citizen observers from 52 CSOs were ultimately accredited by the Union Election Commission (UEC).
On election day, PACE observers deployed in pairs to a random sample of 440 locations nationwide as part of PACE’s sample-based observation (SBO) effort. PACE also deployed observers in pairs to over 550 additional locations nationwide.
Over 18,900 points of data were collected over the phone from observers to over 60 call center operators and PACE staff in Yangon. From 5:00 am on election day to early in the afternoon on the next day, PACE observers reported on the setup of polling stations, the voting and counting process, and the announcement and posting of results. PACE was able to collect and analyze data in time to hold a press conference less than 24 hours after the poll officially closed and prior to the UEC’s release of official results.
PACE’s groundbreaking work provided Burmese citizens and international observers with the only timely, nationally representative data about election day procedures in the country’s history.
Seventeen network coordinators stationed in every state and region served both as master trainers and supervisors for long-and short-term observers.
130 long term observers deployed nationwide for the duration of the 60 day campaign period to monitor both the pre-election period and act as supervisors for all short-term observers.
This graphic is based on the deployment of PACE’s 880 SBO observers to 440 randomly selected polling stations, ensuring a nationally representative sample.
PACE deployed observers in pairs to over 550 additional polling stations to every township around the country.
During the 60-day campaign period ahead of the polls, PACE deployed 130 long-term observers to conduct interviews with candidates, voters, and UEC
sub-commissions, and monitor campaign rallies occurring in their designated areas.
Building off their pilot observation of the initial voter list update in July 2014, PACE deployed 110 long term observers to 868 display centers nationwide to monitor the two week national voter list display period in September 2015.
In May 2015, PACE enumerators conducted over 3,000 face-to-face interviews from 363 randomly sampled villages nationwide to gauge the level of knowledge and awareness of the people about elections, and assess the geographical needs and the infrastructure of the country for broader election observation projects.
PACE observers deployed around the country to watch the opening, voting and closing and counting process. Overall, PACE saw an orderly election day process where voters were able to participate. Most polling stations opened on time and facilities were usually accessible to voters. PACE observers saw low rates of intimidation of voters at the polling stations. In general, observers were allowed to watch the process, though some faced difficulty at the beginning of the day. Political party and candidate agents were present in a large number of polling stations. PACE found that, in some polling stations, less than 10 people were turned away because they were not on the voter list. At the end of voting day, many stations still had a queue of voters and, in nearly all cases, those people were allowed to vote. Election officials in most locations followed voting procedures, however there were some isolated cases where some individuals not on the voter list were allowed
to vote. In nearly all locations, witnesses, observers and agents were allowed to stay during the count. Copies of the results form (Form 16) were posted in most locations. PACE observers did find some locations where advance ballots were not counted before election day ballots as required by procedures. Party and candidate agents raised complaints about the count in less than one-third of polling stations.
On November 8, PACE deployed nonpartisan observers in polling stations in all states and regions. From reports received thus far, most PACE observers have been able to observe the process. PACE has received isolated reports of observers being forced to leave polling stations due to overcrowding, not allowed inside before voting began, and being prevented from using observer forms. So far, PACE observers have been able to access polling stations. However despite receiving multiple levels of permission from the Yangon Election Sub-Commission and the Yangon Regional Government, PACE was prevented from observing polling stations in Cocokyun Township because transportation to the island was restricted. Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint of PACE said, “We hope the UEC will ensure full transparency in the election process and allow observers to have sufficient access.”