Election Media Centers on the Front Line of Election-related Activities in the Regions of Georgia
The Election Media Centers located at Centers for Civic Engagement (CCE) are supported by USAID’s Advancing CSO Capacities and Engaging Society for Sustainability (ACCESS) project, implemented by East-West Management Institute.
Election Media Centers were launched on July 26 at all ten CCEs in the following towns of Georgia: Alkhaltsikhe, Batumi, Gori, Kutaisi, Marneuli, Ozurgeti, Rustavi, Sagarejo, Telavi, Zugdidi. The Media Centers will operate till the end of December, 2016 ensuring free and neutral discussion space during the run-off majoritarian elections, as well as the post-election period.
The purpose of the Media Centers is to play an active role in disseminating critical election-related information among local communities throughout Georgia, facilitating open debates and public dialogue on election related issues, and enabling citizens to make more informed choice at the ballot box. The 2016 Parliamentary Election Media Centers offer equal opportunities to all stakeholders to use the CCE premises (conference room, meeting room, computer lab, and library) to further their campaign and/or make their work more effectively coordinated. CCE staff was also involved in assisting local CSOs, journalists and observers in conducting their meetings and ensuring high attendance. Additional funds were allocated to update Center’s equipment and internet connectivity to ensure uninterrupted working environment.
Since the official launch (July 26) including the Election Day (October 8) Election Media Centers hosted 451 election-related events, involving up to 9,200 citizens, out of which 57% were women, 10% ethnic minorities and 32% youth. Local and national media covered these events 393 times. The events included trainings and awareness-raising seminars, community meetings, media briefings, open debates and discussions with participation of the leading political parties and CSOs, focus-group discussions, etc. Apart from external users, the Media Centers also initiated their own events aimed at raising public awareness about upcoming parliamentary elections.
On the Election Day (October 8th) the CCE Media Centers were open one hour prior to opening of the polling stations and operated till late night. During the day several briefings were held at the centers. Journalists used the Media Centers intensively to cover main developments. USAID head of mission Mr. Douglas Ball visited Gori CCE on the Election Day. Overall 306 persons used/visited Media Centers on this day in all ten CCEs.