About ERIS

Becoming an Observer

This section contains information on becoming an election observer and explains how the selection process works.

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What is an Election Observer?

There are two types of election observers: long term and short term observers.

Short Term Observers (STOs) are responsible for observing the close of the election campaign, the voting process, and the counting and tabulation of results in their area of responsibility. STOs are deployed throughout a country in multinational two-person teams. Their observations are used by the mission’s Core Team to gain an overall assessment of the polling day procedures.   Upon their return to the UK, all STOs complete a post-mission report for ERIS describing their observations during the mission. Based on these reports, ERIS will provide a final report to the FCO. STOs are under contract with ERIS and are required to comply with instructions and arrangements made by the Mission Core Team.


Long Term Observers (LTOs) monitor preparations for the election at a regional level. They are deployed well in advance of the polling date for a period of 8 to 10 weeks and report to Country Headquarters regularly.


They can also be responsible for STOs deploying to their region, which can include logistical and administrative responsibility. LTOs are drawn from observers with prior mission experience as the requirements and demands are far greater than those made of STOs.


For details of the application process visit  How to Apply



What are we looking for?

ERIS is looking for people who have past experience in election observation missions, experience of election administration or relevant academic and/or professional backgrounds. In addition, we require that election observers be in excellent health, are willing to work long hours in difficult conditions, and have the ability to work well as part of a team.

All candidates for participation in election observation missions should fulfil the following requirements:

  • Previous knowledge (national and/or international) of election monitoring and/or other relevant experience and/or training
  • Good knowledge of the mission’s working languages
  • Strong interpersonal skills including balanced judgement, ability to work in teams and to cope with difficult situations, respect for local attitudes, good communication, and readiness to work in a multi-cultural environment
  • Ability to maintain commitment to democracy and human rights
  • Academic or professional background in democracy and human rights, international work or military background

Our selection procedure reflects these criteria plus any specific additional criteria provided by the EU or OSCE/ODIHR for the mission. We allocate a weighting for each criterion, use a panel to review each application and then use the combined total scores to establish a shortlist.

Some criteria, such as the mission working language or at least one STO mission for LTO candidates, will be a minimum requirement without which an application will not be considered. We also place particularly strong emphasis on election observation experience and country-specific experience. Once we have a shortlist we then try to ensure that the candidates we put forward reflect a good gender balance and diversity in terms of age, background and, where possible, ethnicity. We also do our best to enable as many candidates as possible to participate in missions over the course of the year.

Please note that for election observer missions ERIS only recruits UK citizens. Non-UK citizens are advised to contact their respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can find further details of your Focal Point on the EuropeAid website.


Improve your chances of selection

We regularly receive a high volume of applications to take part in election observation missions.

Here we provide some suggestions to improve your chances of selection for a mission.

  • Gain experience observing elections in your home country
  • Consider taking a relevant training course
  • Maintain an awareness of the electoral calendar [see resources]
  • Develop or improve your language skills relevant to the country in which the election will take place
  • Consider volunteering for other organisations working in this area such as the Carter Center UK and UNV

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be paid as a Short Term Observer?

No. Short Term observers are volunteers and are therefore not paid a salary. However, all mission costs are incurred by ERIS, and STOs will be issued with appropriate funds to cover transport and hotel costs during the mission. STOs will also be issued with a per-diem to cover the cost of meals and incidentals during the mission. STOs are not required to pay for expenses, including transport costs within the UK. Detailed financial instructions are given with each mission explaining the process fully.

Do I have to organise my own travel?

No. All travel arrangements are made by ERIS, including the issuing of appropriate visas as required. The UK team will be deployed on flights organised by ERIS, and will be accommodated in hotels organised by the Mission Core Team. STOs will only be responsible for making their own way to and from the airport in the UK. Upon arrival in country all other transport is organised for them. ERIS will also make sure that the UK team has appropriate travel insurance cover for the duration of the mission.

Can I organise my own travel arrangements for the mission?

No. All STOs must comply strictly with the travel arrangements organised for them. All observers are required to travel on the flights organised for them by ERIS, and no alternative arrangements can be made. Travel insurance will only cover observers for the duration of the mission and will not be extended under any circumstances to suit private travel arrangements. Observers will be required to return to the UK on the flights provided without exception. ERIS will not reimburse alternate flight arrangements.

Can I choose which area of the country I can be deployed to?

No. Deployment areas are assigned in advance by the core team prior to the arrivals of the STOs. These arrangements are based upon mission requirements and are not possible to change: STOs are required to comply with deployment plans and may not request changes.

Am I required to speak additional languages?

This depends on the organization we are recruiting for:

OSCE missions: Unless specified, missions operate in English, and all STO teams are assigned a local driver and interpreter for the duration of the mission.

EU missions: please read the mission advertisement carefully - missions can run in a combination of English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Preference is given to those with the relevant country/regional experience and additional languages.

OSCE and EU Election Observation Missions have a Core Team - how do I become part of it?

The Core Team is recruited directly by the organisation conducting the observation mission, and consequently ERIS has no responsibility for the recruitment and selection of Core Team members. Members of the Core Team will have considerable mission experience and an extensive professional experience in international affairs.


ACE Electoral Knowledge Network www.aceproject.org
EU Election Observation Homepage www.eueom.eu
IFES Election Guide: includes calendar of forthcoming elections www.electionguide.org
Network for Enhanced Electoral and Democratic Support (NEEDS) Project www.needsproject.eu
Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers www.eris.org.uk
Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organisations gndem.org
Compendium of International Standards for Election Observation ec.europa.eu
Handbook for OSCE Election Observers www.osce.org
Handbook for European Union Election Observers ec.europa.eu
OSCE Election Observer reports www.osce.org
Commonwealth Secretariat Election Observer Group Reports www.thecommonwealth.org
EU Observation Mission Group Reports www.eueom.eu
African Union Election Observer Group Reports africa-union.org
IRI Election Observer Group Reports www.iri.org
CARICOM Election Observer Reports www.caricom.org
NDI Election Observer Group Reports www.ndi.org
ECOWAS Reports on Democracy and Good Governance www.comm.ecowas.int
Databases of voter turnout, gender quotas (from International IDEA) www.idea.int