The Inter-American Meetings of Electoral Management Bodies seek to promote the effective exchange of knowledge, experiences, and best practices in electoral administration in the region. In particular, the meetings facilitate horizontal cooperation in efforts to continuously strengthen institutional capacities and further improve electoral systems in the Americas.
To date, seven Inter-American Meetings of Electoral Management Bodies have been held. The first took place in March 2003 in Panama City, Panama, where participants discussed the importance of consensus among political actors in order to implement technological changes and promote necessary legal reforms in this area. In subsequent meetings, participants discussed the effective use of new technologies at different stages of the electoral process, sharing best practices designed to ensure the accurate and efficient transmission of results, among other things. In April 2008 in Quito, Ecuador, representatives of the region's electoral management bodies explored efforts to strengthen public confidence in the electoral process, focusing particularly on three issues: political financing, electoral participation, and technology.
The most recent meetings, in 2007 and 2008, provided impetus for information-sharing and collaboration among institutions, as well as concrete initiatives to strengthen electoral authorities and to make elections more transparent and participatory. For instance, the OAS General Secretariat began the project “Strengthening the Electoral Process and Registration Systems of the Electoral Tribunal of Panama: Implementing a Quality Management System.” Subsequently, following the Quito meeting, the Supreme Elections Tribunal of Costa Rica and the National Jury of Elections of Peru requested similar technical assistance.
Starting in 2008, the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation began to institutionalize its capacity-building project known as the First Inter-American Electoral Training Seminar. At the 2008 meeting in Quito, the electoral authorities themselves discussed and selected the priority topics to be addressed at the training seminar.
The Fifth Inter-American Meeting was also a milestone in terms of regional participation, as it marked the first time that electoral management bodies of the Caribbean participated. Their contributions demonstrated important commonalities between Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Sixth Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Management Bodies took place June 21-23, 2009, in Ottawa, Canada, where three key themes for electoral management bodies were addressed: the role of electoral bodies between elections, voter registration, and international electoral observation. At the Seventh Meeting, held in May 2010 in Washington, D.C., senior election authorities from around the Americas discussed how to organize electoral processes that are more accessible. They looked at three principal issues: models of engagement between electoral management bodies and political parties in the electoral process; the role of the media during the electoral process; and access to voting for persons with disabilities.
The Association of Caribbean Electoral Organizations (ACEO) was created in 1998 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as a clearinghouse for information and inter-institutional cooperation that today brings together 14 electoral management bodies. Since the ACEO's beginnings, the Organization of American States has supported the Caribbean organization's meetings.
To date, the ACEO has held four meetings, three in Jamaica and one in Barbados. During these gatherings, electoral authorities have had the chance to share experiences on issues as diverse as voting accessibility, political party and campaign financing, electoral technologies in the Caribbean, and the role of civil society, political parties, and the media in supporting electoral authorities, to name a few.