“Letter for young voters” — over 52 thousand of first-time voters were encouraged to vote

by Irina Gotisan-Sotnic

For the first time in the Republic of Moldova, the first-time voters who will participate at the elections on February 24th, received a postcard from the Electoral Commission.

“Dear future voter!

It’s time to make your first choice as a full-fledged citizen of the Republic of Moldova … “

The young people, who are going to vote for the first time at the parliamentary elections, have been informed about the importance of their involvement in the democratic and electoral processes.

This is the beginning of the letter received by 52,383 young people who reached or are about to reach the age of 18 years old until February 24, 2019 and who will vote for the first time at the upcoming Parliamentary Elections. The postcards sent by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) aim at motivating young people to participate in elections and remind them about the importance to vote. It’s a premiere for the Republic of Moldova when the first-time voters are invited to make their voice heard in the Election Day in such an unusual manner.

A group of volunteers prepared these over 50,000 postcards in order to be sent to the young people across the country (including Transnistria region).

Adrian Oprea is a 12th grade student at the Republican High School “Aristotel” from Chisinau and is one of the youngsters who received such a postcard. He tells about his astonishment when have found the envelope in his mailbox.

Adrian Oprea, first-time voter.
“I was surprised at first. I was thinking that I did something wrong and this is a fine or a reprimand. But, opening the envelope, I was pleasantly surprised to read the information about my right to vote. I have always been curious to know about what is happening in the political life and my parents provided me a civic education. I think that elections are the voice of the society, and us, the citizens, are the speakers. Thus, we are the ones who decide what to “speak” and what impact our “words” will have on our lives.”

Regarding the Election Day, Adrian says that he is impatient to vote for the first time.

“I look forward to the moment when I will go to vote, the moment when I will, finally, choose what’s best for me. Of course, I would like not to be the only one, so I will urge my colleagues to do the same, even if some of them are skeptical about the importance of their votes. Many of my peers think that their votes are insignificant and their participation in the Election Day will change nothing. Obviously, they are wrong. People forget that we, together, are members of the same society. They forget that, in a significant number, we can bring changes, if not for us, at least, for our descendants. However, the more the importance of voting will be promoted, the more people will be informed and I am glad to receive the notification about how much my vote matters,” Adrian notes.
This activity is part of the CEC’s electoral information and civic education campaign called “Democracy Matters”.

Adrian’s high school mate, Valeria Covalciuc, originally from Falestii Noi, says that she, also, received such a letter from the Central Electoral Commission. This year, the electoral management body organized an extensive electoral information and civic education campaign called “Democracy Matters”. The campaign was conducted in the capital city, but, also, in different regions of the country, comprising several segments of voters, such as: women and elderly in difficulty, underrepresented ethnic groups, citizens living abroad. An important part of the campaign was focused on young people, who were informed about the electoral processes. Likewise, the Centre for Continuous Electoral Training (CICDE), by the CEC, conducted a campaign: “Democracy can be learned!”

Valeria Covalciuc, first-time voter.
“I knew that I have to receive a postcard about my first experience as a voter. Thus, when it was delivered, I opened, carefully, the envelope, because I was interested in the format of the postcard and its message. At the beginning, I knew superficially about how elections will take place based on the mixed electoral system. Later, I got informed from various sources about the uninominal constituencies and candidates. Currently, I follow all the information regarding the constituency where I’m going to vote. Moreover, me and my colleagues, who are, also, going to vote for the first time, had a lot of discussions about the relevance of the elections for our society and the importance of each vote.”

Valeria says that she doesn’t pay attention so much to the voting exercise per se, since for her is more important the “weight” of her vote. She underlines that nowadays young people have full access to information and that allows them to make their own conclusions and to be less influenceable.

“I can’t say that I am very impatient to go to vote, as this is just an ordinary event in a democratic society. I’m more interested in the elections’ results and the “weight” of my vote and how it might tilt the scale. In a democratic society, it’s important for all citizens to get involved in the electoral processes, because this means democracy. As for young people, we are the most active participants of civil society and the most informed ones, as we have access to a lot of media sources. Being raised in a democratic society, we have a well-developed critical thinking and are more objective, we don’t let ourselves be malleable. Thus, it’s important that more young people express their opinion in the Election Day. Even if the outcome of the elections depends on the will of majority, it’s important that every citizen makes use of the right to vote, which is fundamental for our society.”
The postcards’ production and their dispatch took place with the UNDP Moldova’ support.

The postcards were sent in December 2018 and their message is the following:

The message contained on the postcard.

“Dear future voter!

It’s time to make your first choice as a full-fledged citizen of the Republic of Moldova. You are 18 years old or you will be soon, which means that you not only become an independent person, but, also, that you can make your own decisions, which will contribute to the development of your country.

On February 24th 2019, Parliamentary Elections will take place. Go to vote! Your first vote is the starting point of your journey as a citizen who cares about his/her future and the future of his/her parents, grandparents, friends, and, why not, of your future children. The Central Electoral Commission team encourages you to make use, democratically, of your voting rights. But before taking this step, do not forget to get informed about the electoral candidates and electoral processes. The information makes you a stronger citizen. Be a worthy example for your generation!

Go to vote! Your vote matters!

Sincerely,

The Central Electoral Commission Team”

During the postcards’ printing process.

In October 2018, the design and text of the postcard were developed and, after that, the addresses database of the recipients, respecting all the norms while using the personal data, were processed. In November, a group of volunteers and CEC and CICDE officials prepared the envelopes to be shipped. The letters were sent with the support of the State Enterprise “Posta Moldovei” (Post Office of Moldova), following a partnership with this institution. The letters were sent, also, to the localities on the left bank of the Dniester river (Transnistria region).

The letters were sent with the support of the State Enterprise “Posta Moldovei” (Post Office of Moldova).

Andrei Bujac is one of the volunteers who helped preparing the postcards to be delivered. He is an active young man and wants to motivate other peers to be more involved in the social life, but, also, in the democratic processes.

Andrei Bujac, volunteer.
“For me, as a volunteer, it was a very exciting activity, along with other young volunteers, we were trained what to do. Then, together with the CEC and CICDE team, we put the postcards in the envelopes and prepared them to be sent to the recipients. I hope it was nice surprise for them! I think that each young person should care about what is happening in the country we live in. To be aware that the good and beautiful things do not happen on their own, but each, as it can, must contribute. By voting, citizens build their society and the country they want to live in.”
The CEC and CICDE team while putting the postcards in envelopes, in order to be sent to the recipients.
Corneliu Pasat, Deputy Head of the Communication, Public Relations and Media Department, CEC.
Corneliu Pasat, the Deputy Head of the Communication, Public Relations and Media Department of the CEC, declared: “For the institution I represent, it’s very important that every citizen is well informed. In this regard, we thought to inform and motivate, in this way, the young people in order to actively take part in the electoral processes of our country.”
Eva Bounegru, Project Manager, UNDP Moldova.
Eva Bounegru, the manager of the UNDP Moldova’s project “Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections”, underlines: “A big component of our Project is focused on civic education and voter information, particularly for women and young voters. During 2018, we organized different activities for young voters, thus, in addition to these, over 52,000 young women and men, who received the postcard, we reached more than 100,000 indirect beneficiaries, namely the first voters’ family members, relatives, colleagues, friends or neighbours.”

The campaign is conducted in the framework of the UNDP Moldova’s Project “Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections”, with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Embassy in Chisinau through the Good Governance Fund and the Embassy of Netherlands through the Matra Program.