Dear Members, dear Partners, dear Friends!
Undoubtedly, the year of 2020 - compared to the earlier times - has been much more complicated for most of us both in our personal lives and professional matters. It has been so in the life of the ACEEEO as well.
Early this year we received the sad news that dr. István Zsuffa, program-director of ACEEEO passed away at age 76. He was a long-time friend of many colleagues working in the electoral field globally. With advices he constantly supported the work of the Secretariat and contributed to the realization of many of our projects. In September the General Assembly of ACEEEO awarded István with posthumous Honorary Membership.
During the spring we have learnt that due to the spread of coronavirus it would be impossible to hold traditional international physical gatherings, therefore, we were forced to re-evaluate the way of the ACEEEO’s engagement in the work of our members and partners. In the long (29-year-old) history of ACEEEO it happened only once, in 2010, that due to the Icelandic volcano eruption we had to postpone an Executive Board meeting. Now, ten years later due to the COVID-19 we had to move almost all the activities to digital platforms.
The Secretariat without hesitation went fully virtual and organized a series of online events. In the end of March the ACEEEO held its first completely online Executive Board meeting, which was been followed by the first-ever online ACEEEO Annual Conference in September. The 29th ACEEEO Annual Conference organized by the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia and the ACEEEO Secretariat discussed the topic of ‘Elections and Communications - The role of Electoral Management Bodies in conducting and facilitating effective communication’. Also, we issued online our annual publication ‘Elections in Europe’ which includes fascinating articles and case studies from the same topic.
Taking into account the challenges of EMBs facing the new situation and in order to take our share in the global flow of election related information, the ACEEEO launched the series ‘Online Symposiums on Elections in Times of Epidemic.’ We organized altogether four thematic Symposiums between May and November, where our experts discussed challenges and solutions of holding elections under the threat of COVID-19; the legal and practical approach to holding or postponing elections; the best practices of communications at times of epidemic; and, the experiences from elections held in Europe and the U.S. Furthermore, in October-November the International IDEA and ACEEEO united their efforts and convened a series of online webinars on Special Voting Arrangements, where postal, early and mobile forms of voting were discussed in three consecutive events.
As this year approaches to an end, it becomes more and more clear that we have a long way behind us as well as a long journey ahead. This time of the year provides opportunity to us all to gather strength to carry on in our mission. The ACEEEO Secretariat, too, is looking forward to continuing its active international involvement and constantly analyzing further possibilities for joint actions in the year to come.
With the end of this highly challenging so-called ‘COVID-year’ we would greet you with the nowadays so popular phrase: ‘We hope you stay healthy and safe’, but we also wish you all the best for the upcoming Holidays, and hope that now a pleasant time is coming!
President of ACEEEO
Chairperson of the Central Election Commission of Georgia
Secretary General of ACEEEO