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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 22, 2008


Emerging Leaders from 76 Countries to Observe U.S. Electoral System Firsthand in Nation's Capital and across America in I-VOTE 2008 Initiative

Nearly 100 Election Fellows from 76 countries around the world have been handpicked by U.S. ambassadors to participate in I-VOTE 2008 (International Visitors Observe the Elections). Between October 26 and November 8, these emerging leaders, aged 30 – 50, who are involved in promoting democracy in their countries, will observe the U.S. political system during the final countdown to Election Day 2008. Arranged by Meridian International Center, this exchange initiative is part of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Visitor Leadership Program.

All fluent in English, the Election Fellows will gain insights through professional programs in the Nation’s Capital and in one of five battleground or swing states: Denver, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; St. Louis, Missouri; and Columbus, Ohio. I-VOTE will immerse them in national, state and local election processes, introducing them to election officials, political analysts, citizen activists, students, academics, voters and the candidates themselves for an increased understanding of the U.S. electoral process.

In Washington, DC (October 26-29), as part of their orientation to the U.S. political process, the Election Fellows will hear from Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri, former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, former Democratic Congressman and governor Jim Blanchard, Politico Managing EditorBill Nichols, CEO of Burson-Marsteller and advisor and polling analystMark Penn, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, andFounder and CEO of Politics-360 Greg Fawcett. At Gallup’s World Poll Conference Center, the Fellows will have an insider’s view of the world of political polling from Gallup Poll Editor Frank Newport and other experts.

After visits to one of five battleground or swing states, the Election Fellows will travel in teams of two to follow Election Day activities in fifty other U.S. communities, to observe voting and engage informally with voters. Scheduled and spontaneous venues will include campaign events, town hall meetings, briefings on voter registration procedures and rules governing polling places, and meetings with campaign workers involved in operating phone banks, leafleting, and coordinating transportation to polling stations. The day will culminate with the Fellows attending election-watch social events to witness victory and concession speeches alongside members of their host communities.

On November 5, the Election Fellows will reunite in Boston, Massachusetts for a symposium at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, to analyze the outcomes and ramifications of the presidential and congressional election as well as to share their program experiences and insights.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, 202-203-5107 or StearnsCL@state.gov

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Released on October 22, 2008

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