Door-To-Door Awareness Campaign Reaches Out To Citizens Ahead Of Local Elections

July 20, 2017
The Independent Election Commission’s campaign seeks to raise awareness of eligible voters across the country (Photo courtesy of IEC)

AMMAN — The Independent Election Commission’s (IEC) door-to-door awareness campaign, which seeks to raise awareness of at least 85 per cent of eligible voters across the country, has achieved 75 per cent of its plan, according to an IEC official.
The campaign, which seeks to inform voters about the new municipalities and decentralisation laws, as well as measures and processes of the August 15 elections, is being assisted by around 19,000 volunteers, said Aous Qutaishat, the IEC chairman’s adviser.
In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, he described the awareness campaign as “the largest of its kind” to be carried out by an election-organising body.
“We are moving slowly but surely to regain people’s trust in the electoral process,” Qutaishat said.
The opportunity to volunteer was initially limited to young Jordanians, but the interest shown by senior citizens has opened up the doors to all, he said, noting that some 42,000 volunteers will be helping the IEC on the day of the elections.
He noted that volunteers receive at least three days of training, where they learn how to interact with the public and answer questions in an appropriate manner.
Gia Rowley, a project coordinator at the IEC, said volunteers come from a diverse age group that includes both nine-year-olds and two men in their  seventies.
Volunteers have so far distributed some 15 million brochures, which vary according to the local council jurisdiction of each constituency.
Candidates have also received awareness-raising training on invalid ballot papers, and are educated on other issues, including final voters’ lists and voting procedures for their constituencies, so they can tailor their promotional campaign accordingly.
Abdulhamid Dairy, a graduate of the University of Jordan’s law faculty, said he was enthusiastic  about combining his legal background in electoral processes with the commission’s work on the ground. 
He said his internship at the IEC has transformed his stance, from previously boycotting elections and believing they have no impact in bringing about change, to a totally different position. He is now one of the volunteers who explain voting processes and the significance of participation to some 1,000 eligible voters through the door-to-door campaign. 
Natasha Khawaja, an American International Relations student taking part in the IEC’s internship programme, said she was able to closely examine the IEC’s organisation of the elections and its public awareness- raising campaign through a grassroots approach.
Such awareness campaigns are usually partisan-organised in the US, Khawaja said, as each political party seeks to promote their own candidates and their own agenda.
She said she will be sharing her experience with her colleagues once she returns home.
A total of 48 interns take part in the IEC’s awareness campaign and train other volunteers, explaining the regulations and encouraging participation.
The awareness raising campaign also includes educating candidates and providing them with informative material that can help them educate eligible voters in their constituencies.
Under the same campaign, IEC volunteers will display educational material at all election centres and polling stations across the country, Qutaishat said, adding that these materials will be specific to each local council or municipality jurisdiction.
The door-to-door campaign is carried out in partnership with the Youth Ministry, the National Democratic Institute, USAID and the European Union, as well as several civil society organisations and universities.
 
Jordan Times
July 21, 2017