An exciting new initiative is underway. A group called the “Facilitation Office for a Civic Registration Drive” has created a website for registering eligible Palestinian voters. The aim is to lay the groundwork for Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections to restore representation to the majority of Palestinians.
One of the main consequences of the Oslo process was the diminution of the PLO. That happened as the Palestinian Authority – which was a product of the framework – wrested more and more power from the broadly representative body.
Many Palestinians believe that the way to recapture their national movement is through the restoration of democratic processes for all Palestinians. PNC elections – elections to the legislative body of the PLO – can do that.
It is worth noting that the movement to restore Palestinian representation is not a new one. People like Karma Nabulsi and Salman Abu Sitta have been working on this issue for decades. See here and here for two articles with more background and details.
My hope is that the organizers will succeed in registering the bulk of refugees and other Palestinians in the diaspora. But the website doesn’t make it clear just who those organizers are. Perhaps it would be wise to adopt a norm or policy of organizational transparency.
This is how the website describes the voter drive:
Welcome to PalestiniansRegister.org, the website of the civic registration drive for elections to the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the supreme legislative body of the PLO. Only 40 percent of the Palestinian people who are eligible to vote are currently registered. This website provides information and tools for the remaining 60 percent of Palestinians, in order that they can register themselves for elections in all locations where Palestinians currently remain unregistered. It explains how Palestinian civil society can assist in registering those who have never had a chance to vote in national democratic elections.
In many democratic societies, voter registration is the responsibility of the people. This holds true even more for Palestinians, who currently lack the institutional and infrastructural support for a comprehensive registration of voters. Through an online mechanism, a registration drive carried out by civil society can enable all Palestinians to participate safely in a registration process that will be available for use over the spring and summer of 2012.
Palestinians can carry out the registration of voters in two stages:
A preparatory phase (November 2011 – May 2012): public awareness-raising and information; registration training by participating Palestinian associations; resource mobilization by Palestinian communities to assist registration of their own and other communities without resources; and logistical preparation of local registration drives.
Voter registration (May – October 2012): secure internet registration of unregistered voters in all locations; verification; and compilation of the voter register.
On PalestiniansRegister.org you will also find information about Palestinian civil society’s Campaign for Voter Registration, a decentralized but coordinated campaign working towards the reality of democratic elections to the PNC. All Palestinians, individuals, and associations can join the civic campaign for voter registration to create the first-ever register of Palestinian voters for PNC elections.