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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

A delegation of young political party representatives from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia are visiting the United States this week on a study mission to observe the U.S electoral process, and particularly the role of youth, with the goal of gathering information on techniques they can bring back and adapt in their home countries.

The mission, sponsored by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 8. It will be based in Washington, D.C., but will include visits to Virginia and other nearby areas. They will spend election day observing voting at polling stations in the greater Washington area, including Maryland and Virginia.

The visitors will have the opportunity to witness a U.S. election campaign firsthand and—during such a politically critical time in North Africa—learn transferable skills and lessons they can bring home. While discussions and visits throughout the mission will address a variety of campaign and electoral issues, sessions will have a particular focus on the role of youth—both as targets of election campaign outreach and as campaign organizers themselves.

The mission builds on a regional NDI program for young political party members in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia launched last year to support more effective participation of young people in political life. Through the program, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, the 12 study mission participants have already taken part in a series of interactive seminars. These covered topics such as public speaking, media relations, party organizing, campaign techniques, conflict management, strategic planning and more. They are supplemented by independent projects, such as organizing training sessions on public speaking and campaigning for other party youth.

Through the mission, the young leaders will have an opportunity to hone their understanding of the practice of politics by observing campaigns at the national, state and local levels, and by speaking with key participants in the electoral process. They will witness Democratic and Republican campaign activities, speak with fellow party youth activists, meet electoral administrators and get-out-the-vote activists, and observe voting on election day.


Published: Nov. 1, 2012