Youth Soccer Promotes Peace and Reconciliation in Kenya
About the Author: Karin L. Von Hippel serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
At a massive youth soccer tournament last weekend in Nairobi, the competition was peaceful, and the hope in Kenya is that the election season also will be peaceful.
Kenyans want to avoid the kind of violence that occurred after the 2007 elections. In Nairobi’s Mathare slum, one of Africa’s poorest and largest and a hotspot of violence in 2007, more than 20 people have died as a result of inter-ethnic fighting in recent months. Bob Munro, who created the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987, thought that a big tournament might be a good way to ease tensions.
Munro has an impressive track record. MYSA was designed, in part, to employ sports to help youngsters gain self-confidence and leadership skills. Besides offering athletics, the nonprofit supports activities that fight child labor, creates libraries and study halls, and helps kids with disabilities… more »
Cooperatively Observing Ghana Decide
About the Author: Gene A. Cretz serves as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.
While many Americans experienced long lines when voting in our 2012 elections, by and large, they faced these inconveniences with patience and determination. Ghanaians displayed the same kind of determination, patience, and pride this past weekend when exercising their right to vote in their sixth presidential and parliamentary elections. Ghana’s commitment to democracy stands unrivaled on the African continent and is a lesson to all who take seriously our civic duties to vote, be it through volunteering as poll watchers, serving as election workers, or engaging in “Get Out the Vote” efforts.
Recognizing the strength of Ghana’s democratic traditions, as demonstrated in its five previous elections and two inter-party transitions of power, U.S. Embassy Ghana mapped out a strategy to observe Ghana’s first biometric election process while coordinating effectively with other… more »
Tech@State Hosts ElecTech Conference
About the Author: Isaiah Joo serves in the Office of eDiplomacy at the U.S. Department of State.
On November 30, 2012, the Office of eDiplomacy within the State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management convened its ninth Tech@State conference, Tech@State:ElecTech. The event focused on the important and expanding role of technology on democratic elections and the electoral process both domestically and internationally. Over 50 experts from within the U.S. government, U.S. presidential campaigns, social media companies, international non-governmental organizations, non-profits, and academic institutions convened to speak on this subject.
In a welcoming address, Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s… more »
Burkina Faso Parliamentary and Local Elections
Mark C. Toner
Office of the Spokesperson
December 4, 2012
We congratulate the Burkinabe people on their peaceful participation in Sunday’s parliamentary and local elections. Millions of voters across the country successfully cast their votes for more than 6,000 candidates for 127 seats in parliament and thousands of local races. We welcome initial reports that voting was generally peaceful and well-run. We encourage election officials to thoroughly investigate all reports of irregularities and we look forward to the announcement of official results on December 7.
Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine
Mark C. Toner
Office of the Spokesperson
October 29, 2012
The United States Government is concerned that the conduct of Sunday’s parliamentary elections constituted a step backwards from progress made during previous parliamentary elections and the 2010 presidential election, elections that had marked important steps forward for Ukraine’s democracy.
We share the concerns cited in today’s preliminary report from observation missions from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. These include the use of government resources to favor ruling party candidates, interference with media access, and harassment of opposition candidates. While election day was peaceful overall and observed by a large number of domestic and international observers, we are troubled by allegations of fraud and falsification in the voting process and tabulation, by the disparity between preliminary results from the Central Election Commission and parallel vote tabulations, and by the Central Election Commission’s decision not to release precinct results. We also reiterate our deep concern that the politically motivated convictions of opposition leaders, including of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko, prevented them from standing in these elections. We again call on the Government to put an immediate end to the selective prosecution of political opponents.
The United States will continue to support the Ukrainian people’s aspirations for an independent, prosperous and democratic Ukraine. We regret that flawed parliamentary elections do not advance Ukraine toward this goal, but we remain committed to working with Ukraine to improve democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law, and advance essential economic reforms.
Embassies and Consulates Help Overseas U.S. Citizens To Vote
About the Author: Jack Markey serves as Deputy Director of American Citizen Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Your vote counts, wherever you are! If you forgot to register and/or request a ballot, there’s still time to cast your vote, but you’ll have to act fast. Register and/or request a ballot today using the federal post card application at www.FVAP.gov. Select the electronic ballot delivery option, include your email address (and fax number) and send it to local election officials in your state. Almost every state lets you send it by email or fax. Once your application is processed, they will send you your ballot via fax or email, depending on your state’s rules. Vote as soon as you receive the blank ballot. Registration deadlines vary and some are as early as October 7, so check your state’s requirements and deadlines carefully.
From late-September through mid-October, U.S. embassies and consulates… more »
Absentee Voting Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad
Office of the Spokesperson
August 27, 2012
The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens overseas to vote, and offers non-partisan assistance online and through our embassies and consulates around the world.
U.S. citizens can now request their blank ballots electronically. Depending on your state or county, you can get your ballot by email, fax, or internet download. To start, U.S. citizens should go to www.FVAP.gov to fill out a new Federal Post Card Applications (FPCA). Even U.S. citizens who are already registered to vote or who have voted in previous elections should complete new FPCAs in 2012 to ensure they receive their ballot via the fastest delivery method possible.
The registration process for overseas voters has changed in many states this election cycle. Deadlines and eligibility rules for voting in state and local elections vary by state and are rapidly approaching, with some deadlines less than a month away. Additional information about absentee voting for U.S. citizens abroad can be found online at www.FVAP.gov or travel.state.gov.
The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs will be available live during a twitter Q&A with @TravelGov on August 28 at 9 a.m. EDT to answer questions about how to vote while abroad. Representatives from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services and the Federal Voting Assistance Program will be on hand to answer questions about registering to vote and submitting a ballot from overseas.
U.S. Citizens are encouraged to submit questions in advance to @TravelGov, using the hashtag #AskState. Questions may also be tweeted live during the Q&A.
This effort supports the Department’s 21st Century Statecraft efforts, complementing traditional foreign policy by harnessing the digital networks and technologies of an interconnected world.
U.S. Supports Four Timorese Election Observation Missions
The U.S. Embassy in Dili, Timor-Leste is pleased to announce that the United States Government is supporting four separate missions to observe Timor-Leste’s parliamentary election. These efforts will facilitate the training and participation of nearly 1,700 Timorese and international election observers.
USAID’s Fostering Meanin…gful and Responsive Representation Project, implemented by the International Republican Institute (IRI), provides training to domestic observers from the local NGO Church Observatory for Social Affairs (OIPAS). Under this program, it is expected that two domestic observers will be deployed to every polling station across the country. Additionally, IRI is supporting an International Observer Team of 23 people led by Frank Wisner, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, India and the Philippines. They will examine voting preparations, campaign strategies, and other pre‐electoral activities as well as directly observe the parliamentary election. The project also focuses on voter and civic education, including giving voters information on Timor-Leste’s electoral law and election-day procedures.
As part of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Electoral Observer Initiative, the United States is sending two distinguished observers, Ralph Cossa, President of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies and Phillip Rapoza, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Both Mr. Cossa and Judge Rapoza have previous experience with Timor-Leste and look forward to supporting these democratic elections. They will join representatives from several other ARF member countries. This mission was approved at the ministerial level by the ARF during its meetings in Bali last year and is a key initiative under the ARF’s focus on preventive diplomacy.
Further supporting regional coordination, the United States is supporting the East-West Center as it sends seven election observers from the United States, Palau, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea in a program focused on supporting democracy in Timor-Leste and in the Pacific islands. The delegation will be led by Sandra Pierantozzi, former Vice President and Minister of State of Palau.
Finally, the U.S. Embassy will deploy 44 American, Timorese, and third country observers throughout the districts, continuing and expanding upon our observation efforts during the presidential election.
“2012 is a momentous year for the Timorese people. The free, fair, and peaceful presidential elections earlier this year demonstrated the strength of Timor-Leste’s vital, vocal democracy,” said U.S. Ambassador Judith Fergin. “In supporting four diverse observer groups, the United States hopes to contribute to the success of the parliamentary elections. Americans stand proudly by the Timorese people as they exercise their constitutional right to select their government.”
Senegal: The Path to Promise
About the Author: Daniel W. Yohannes serves as Chief Executive Officer ofMillennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
As Senegal today celebrates the 52nd anniversary of its independence, I just returned from the inauguration of the country’s new president, Macky Sall. Last Thursday, I was honored to receive a call from the White House asking me, on behalf of President Obama, to lead the official U.S. delegation attending his inauguration. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and General Carter Ham, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, joined me on the delegation, which was rounded out on the ground by our U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Lewis Lukens.
The delegation represented agencies which carry out the three… more »
An Important Step Forward for Democracy in Africa
About the Author: Lewis Lukens serves as U.S. Ambassador to Senegal.
When I arrived in Senegal last August, I knew that it would be an exciting year for this nation’s democracy, but I don’t think anybody could have predicted the path that Senegalese took to get to where they are today. Much of the population rose up in protest to attempted changes to the constitution last year on June 23 (a date now immortalized by a civil society movement called Movement 23, or M23).
Since last June, Senegal’s democracy has seemed more fragile than ever before during its 52-year history. Yet today, Senegal has a new President-elect, Macky Sall, after current President Abdoulaye Wade graciously conceded defeat last night. Senegal’s strong tradition of democracy and vibrant civil society shone through again.
On February 26, I had the honor and privilege of accompanying Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, as… more »