In the conduct of elections in the Gambia, two categories of Elections observers are accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission to observe all phases of the elections and these are International observers and local or domestic observers.
International Elections Observers: these include International bodies or organizations, embassies or foreign missions to The Gambia, International Charitable Organisations, internationally established democracy & good governance organisations, foreign media houses etc.
Local/Domestic Elections Observers: This category of election observers include local charitable organisations, locally established democracy & good governance organisations, local media houses, etc.
The above categories of elections observers are usually sent letters to inform them about the calendar of any election and through those letters they are required to writer to the IEC to express their intent to observe the election and thus that is followed by filling of the accreditation forms which they could either collect from the IEC headquarters or from this our web page. It is when these forms are filled and forwarded to the IEC that the Commissions determines who could be accredited to observe the elections and thus accreditation letters are sent to them. These are the letters that each and very accredited elections observer should bear to be able to move around to observe the activities of any said election of that period. They are also provided with badges such as to be easily identified as election observers and be given room for their VENERABLE participation in the democratization process of The Gambia. This is to indicate that not everybody could just observe the elections and give their report, but that the process has to be orderly.
The observation process begins from the registration of voters to the counting of votes and the dissemination and announcement of results. The length of time from registration of voters to the election day may mean a lot of MONEY spending for international observers, if they have to come from without the Gambian borders and that being the case, they could be left with the choice of coming to the Gambian shores days close to the election day itself. This will also enable them to judge whether the elections have been conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.
Usually, before the elections, all the accredited election observers are invited by the IEC to a briefing session, during which the IEC informs the observers about its sate of preparedness for the conduct of any election. It is at such a briefing session that the all the election observers are provided with all the information they need to enable them do their work. The information of such nature includes a Handbook for Polling Officials, a handbook for elections observers, observers’ kits, badges and Observers’ T-shirts.
After the conduct of the elections, the observers are again treated to a debriefing session wherein each observer group will submit a provisional report of their observations mission of the election which will later be followed by the submission of their final reports. These reports are usually discussed by the Commission so as to be able to know the weaknesses and strengths of the IEC and be able to improve where need be.
While the IEC entertains this universal trend of inviting both domestic and international observers to The Gambian elections, our staff have also on several occasions been invited by organisations such as ECOWAS, Commonwealth and AU to be part of their observer groups to several elections in other countries. The Chairman through such an opening and as a result of his experience was among those elections experts that were invited to go and observe the November 4th 2008 election in America. In all such observer missions to which our staff have been invited, they have proven efficient.