Voter education in Timor Leste is mainly carried out by the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), with support from international organizations. One of the STAE’s legislated functions is proposing appropriate clarifying, educational and informative measures for citizen involvement in electoral processes, referendums and electoral registration.
STAE has the goal to teach, to explain and to convince the voters on the importance of voting for the development of the democracy and the country. The contents of voter education include:
• Electoral system; • Electoral Institutions; • Legal Framework; • Regulation; • Electoral process The Strategy and program of Voter Education includes: • Community meetings to inform and to convince people to vote; • Distribution of voter education materials, for example: posters, leaflets, stickers, videos, CD’s and fact sheets; • Work closely with NGOs, CSOs, schools, women’s groups, community leaders, local authorities and other distribution channels at district and national level to increase effectiveness of voter education and to reach the highest number of voters possible.
Prior to 2012 Elections, the government-sponsored voter education initiatives were organized but didn’t receive much attention from voters. The voter education in Timor Leste didn’t involve the information regarding to process by which votes translate into parliamentary seats, or how government formation would be determined. Despite the various challenges with voter education, it did not seem to have significantly impacted the voters’ ability to cast their ballot in 2012 Elections.
Local CSOs actively involved in conducting voter education activities for different groups of voters, such as women, and marginalized voters. Caucus organized campaign focusing on gender, especially women as many women remain uneducated about their rights and responsibilities in the electoral process. The campaign was targeted to women, encouraging them to vote and participate in the electoral process. One aspect of this campaign was to create awareness about intimidation and the secrecy of the ballot. The campaign relates to women and men as equal partners, as gender does not refer to women solely.
European Union Election Observation Mission, Final Report, Presidential and Parliamentary Election, 2007
Timor-Leste Parliamentary Election July 7, 2012, Final Report, IRI , 2013
Compendium of the 2012 Elections in Timor-Leste (As of 21 June 2012), UNMIT, UNDP, 2012