Respect for the right to elect and be elected is an essential requirement for the establishment of democracy in the country. Although the legal framework guarantees for individuals the right to exercise this right, the practice of recent years has shown a series of problems related to non-compliance with standards in the conduct of fair and democratic elections. In these conditions, AHC sees as very important its intervention to guarantee the conduct of free and fair elections, in accordance with international standards and OSCE suggestions. AHC intervention strategies in this context involve:
a) Increasing public awareness on familiarization with citizens’ political rights
On the basis of observations, we notice that Albanian citizens often have limited knowledge about voting procedures. They often lack proper information regarding deadlines, ways to appeal cases of irregularities in voter lists, as well as other documents during the voting process. As a result, there are cases when voters do not manage to adequately exercise their right to vote. In these circumstances, AHC aims at contributing to sensitizing citizens about their political rights. AHC will collaborate with other organizations to educate and sensitize voters about their right to elect and be elected. Our organization will increase public awareness through the dissemination of educating materials, awareness campaigns, publications on the AHC official website, published articles, interviews for the media, and public statements.
AHC also aims at increasing citizen awareness with regard to the importance of their political will, expressed through the vote, as having a primary role in the state-forming process and democracy in the country. We will continue to make public the position of the organization about the progress of the electoral process.
b) Contributing to improving the electoral legal framework
In the context of the 2009 elections, the Electoral Code was amended by the two largest political parties in the country. Amendments to the Code led to strong reactions by the smaller parties, which declared, also later during the elections, that the Code favors the larger parties to the detriment of the votes for smaller parties. As a result, there is a need to review the Electoral Code again. In this process, AHC will play an active role by making its contribution to legal electoral reform in cooperation with other civil society actors in Albania. AHC will lobby together with other organizations that are active in this field in order to ensure an all-inclusive approach to this very important process. Furthermore, AHC will be active in offering its opinions and suggestions about an effective review of the Electoral Code in Albania, as a prerequisite for free, fair, and democratic electoral processes. AHC will make better use of open letters, hearing sessions in parliamentary committees, meetings with Members of Parliament, and the media to ensure a more effective impact.
c) Monitoring the exercise of political rights during elections
AHC is a very active organization in monitoring the electoral process in Albania. Its contribution has been recognized and appreciated not only in Albania but also by international bodies. In the June 28, 2009 elections, AHC selected 150 observers. They were trained and monitored about 800 voting centers during the pre-election process and about 700 voting centers during the voting and counting process in Tiranë, Durrës, Shkodër, Elbasan, Gjirokastër, Kukës, Fier, Vlorë and Korçë. During the voting process, AHC observers monitored 25 vote counting centers.
AHC realizes the election monitoring process in cooperation with the local observers’ network. AHC’s role in monitoring elections focuses on: monitoring the electoral process from the establishment and functioning of the electoral administration, the announcement of preliminary and final voter lists, the voting and vote counting processes, reporting on the situation, and the presentation and publication of conclusions and recommendations based on its monitoring. AHC includes its findings on the conduct of electoral reform in its intermediate reports and the final report, which includes the relevant recommendations on how to improve the legislative system and the electoral process in general.
AHC will monitor closely the activity and acts issued by the CEC and will follow all steps to be undertaken in the context of electoral reform, on which it will offer concrete recommendations and expertise. AHC will convey to the relevant bodies, through open letters and public statements, its findings of encountered problems and suggestions and recommendations for improvement.