Boundary Delimitation Workshop in Australia

20 July 2011

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) conducted a BRIDGE Boundary Delimitation workshop in Melbourne from 06 – 08 July 2011. The workshop was funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) as part of the Australian Leadership Award Fellowships.   The workshop facilitators were Cate Thompson and Bassam Alyaseri from the AEC.

The participants were from the Election Commission Bhutan (ECB), the Lands Commission of Bhutan, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) and AEC.

As the delimitation of electoral districts is far more complicated and much more controversial than the delimitation of voting areas, the workshop focus was on the delimitation of electoral district boundaries.

The objective of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of all participants and especially participants from Bhutan so they can continue to conduct credible and effective elections in a transparent, democratic governance environment.

From the first day of the workshop, the atmosphere was full of positive and useful discussion about boundary delimitation (known in Australia as redistribution).  The different levels of experience amongst the participants meant that there was ample opportunity to share thoughts and knowledge between participants and the ECB, VEC and AEC.

During the course of the workshop one of the subjects was to define what boundary delimitation is and how it can be one factor that affects electoral representation. The boundary delimitation process should be based in good, enforceable law to give the boundary authority clear and accepted guiding principles based on a strong legal framework.

Access, conflict management and the use of technology were discussed in details and how these themes can affect the boundary delimitation process.

As a result of the three day workshop, participants gained and shared their knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Reviewing concepts of representation and electoral systems and explore how boundary delimitation can affect electoral systems and vice versa
  • General agreement about the guiding principles for boundary delimitation
  • Explore the political consequences of drawing, and not drawing boundaries and how the political parties and members elected should be involved directly or indirectly during the process.
  • Explore the possible sources of legitimacy of electoral boundaries and the potential contradictory nature of these sources.
  • Explore the different needs of stakeholders in the boundary delimitation process
  • Recognising  the elements of good boundary delimitation laws and procedures
  • Recognise the need for timely financial and logistics management of the boundary delimitation process including sustainability

The BRIDGE workshop was a great success and every aspect of the training (content, methodology, international resources, standard and principles) has been incorporated into the implementation of the electoral process in Bhutan.

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