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How do I become an election observer for the first time?

So, youíd like to become an election observer but the selection criteria say you need election observation experience in order to be selected as an observer Ė help!

We know it seems impossible, but donít despair. If you fulfil all the other criteria the EU seems to be looking for and youíre sure youíd be good at it Ė but you donít have any experience yet, you can still apply.

For almost every election observation mission, the EU invites the Member State Focal Points to propose a small proportion of completely new candidates without former observation experience. Think about it Ė if this didnít happen, nobody could ever have got a job working as an election observer! Of course, the number of completely new observers is a small proportion of the whole Ė itís important to demonstrate to the host country that the mission is experienced. However, a certain number of places are set aside to allow new people to get some experience in the field.

If youíre totally new to observation, you need to be in touch with your Focal Point and ask them to put you forward for future missions. Itís good to be proactive Ė by checking the ECís website where they announce calls for candidates Ė this tells you that they will soon be looking for observers for a particular country. If you speak the mission language and are available during the timeframe, contact your Focal Point to ask them to propose you as a candidate.

Competition for these new observer spots on a mission might be fairly stiff Ė thatís why itís good to be politely persistent and make sure you alert your Focal Point to the fact youíre aware of the mission and are ready and willing to be deployed. Donít expect them to contact you. They have other responsibilities apart from selecting observers and there are plenty of people asking for their attention.

Getting selected for the first time takes a bit of patience, luck and persistence, but it is worth the effort!

In the meantime, prepare yourself by reading up on the EU EOM methodology. You can read the Handbook for European Union Election Observation in English, French or Spanish, downloadable free from our website here. On our publication page you will find lots of other reading material to help you get ready for your first mission.

Good luck!