Best Practices for Ensuring Compliance with Registration and Voting Procedures
Based on findings from the literature review as well as national and international consultations, the most effective practices for ensuring the compliance of poll workers with registration and voting procedures fall under three broad themes.
First, electoral requirements – both legal and administrative – should be designed with compliance in mind; that is, they should be clear, provide well-defined roles and responsibilities, and should not impose excessive demands on poll staff. Models in which staff are assigned a narrow range of specialized tasks may lead to increased staff proficiency and improved quality of work. The use of appropriate technological tools, automated registration processes and simplified procedures for verifying ID may also prove useful for increasing compliance.
Second, effective recruitment and training can improve compliance. Many jurisdictions emphasized the importance of hiring the right people and ensuring that they are well trained. Many of those contacted recommended, at the very least, that staff be screened for literacy, diligence and impartiality, and be evaluated prior to being hired. Maintaining a list or register of staff who have demonstrated a high quality of work and rehiring them was also noted as a good practice. Training should be timely (i.e. neither too far in advance of an election, nor too close to it) and should be responsive to different levels of experience, education and learning styles. Many countries also recommended that training include a hands-on component, such as role play or simulations. There should also be an emphasis on the quality of training. This may be achieved by employing expert or qualified trainers and providing them with their own training.
Guidance materials are also an important component. Many jurisdictions suggested the use of step-by-step guides or checklists to which staff may refer while working. Equally important is encouraging and reminding staff to use these materials. Live support through a telephone hotline or the presence of a supervisor may also be of significant assistance to staff.
Third, effective supervision or the monitoring of procedures at the polls can help to minimize errors and promote conscientious work on the part of poll staff. Many jurisdictions employ a specific staff member to supervise other poll staff and ensure that they are complying with procedures. These supervisors may also answer questions and handle exceptional situations, allowing regular poll staff to focus on mainstream tasks. Scrutineers from political parties can also serve as effective observers. To optimize their impact, they should receive sufficient training and be encouraged to assume an active role in ensuring compliance.
Post-election reviews or audits of procedures are also seen as a method to increase compliance, both immediately and in the long term, by detecting errors, identifying flaws or gaps in training, and obtaining useful feedback from staff members on their experiences at the polls. Many jurisdictions and countries conduct some kind of review following an election; these include manual or automated reviews of documentation, and surveys of electors and staff members. Some countries noted the particular importance of logging and addressing complaints, while others suggested imposing penalties on staff members for non-compliance.
Despite the limitations of this study, interesting measures have been highlighted for improving compliance. While not all of these practices may be applicable in a given context, they effectively serve to highlight the areas in which procedural errors can occur and provide a useful reference for legislative and administrative reforms to strengthen compliance at the polls.