The ACD Team in Morocco

The ACD Team in Morocco


Prepared by Rachel Ehrenfeld & Jean-Charles Brisard

Read this report in a downloadable format.

On June 12, 2009, members of the American Center for Democracy observed municipal elections throughout Morocco, visiting polling sites in urban and rural areas.  We observed, without any obstacles, all the sites we chose and interviewed officials, party delegates and voters.  We witnessed a consistently high level of professionalism, a great sense of responsibility and a good knowledge of voting procedures on the part of the officials in the voting stations.  Without exception the elections met all the recognized requirements of a democratic election and members of the ACD observed only minor irregularities or violations.  The ACD was particularly impressed by the participation and engagement of women, both as voters and as electoral officials.

1.        Members of the ACD observation team
2.        Polling stations observed by the team
3.        General summary regarding the electoral process
4.        Outstanding Trends observed by the team
5.        Key Observations
6.        Recommendations to improve the electoral process
6.1.          Identification documents
6.2.          Ballot & marking method
6.3.          Delegates of the political parties
6.4.          Orientation of the voters
7.        Conclusion: encouraging results, challenges for the next elections
8.        Appendices: ACD team press coverage


Rachel Ehrenfeld & Leslie Lebl  – Marrakech region
Jean-Charles Brisard & Yassir Oukara  – Meknès-Tafilalet region
Yoichiro Kawai  -Casablanca region
James Bissett  -Layoune region
Chris Braham – the urban areas of Laayoune and the rural area of Dakhla.
Indranil Banerjie – Agadir
Simon Bell – Dakala


Marrakech region
Four voting centers comprising more than 20 polling stations were observed.

Meknès-Tafilalet region
Sixty-three polling stations, accounting for 7.3% of the total polling stations of the Province of Meknès (860 polling stations) were observed in 13 different voting centers (11 in urban areas, 2 in rural areas) selected for their diversity:


# Name Description Polling Station (N°)
1 Urban District Al Ismailia
Al Andalous School
Urban area, old city of Meknès (Old Medina) 218-219-220-221-222-223
2 District of Meknassat Azzaytoune, Ibn Roumi School Urban area 432-433-434-435-436-437-438
3 Urban District of Hamriya, Allal Ben Abdellah School New city 28-29-30-31-32-33
4 Urban District of El Menzeh, Okba Iben Nafiae, Alkhansae, Hamza Iben Abdelmoutaleb schools, Tarik Ibn Ziyad college Urban area 102-103-104-105-106-107-119-120-121-122-123
5 Bassatine, Meknès Urban area 76-77-78-79-80
6 Ouislane Urban area 10-11-12-13-14-15
7 Ouislane Urban area, new city 20-21-22-23
8 Oued Jdida, Oued Jdida Centre School Rural area 2
9 Oued Jdida, Douar Oued Jdida Lagar Rural area 3
10 Plaisance Urban area 83-84-85-86-87
11 Meknes Urban area 97-98-99-100-101
12 City of Machouar Stinia, Iben Achir school Royal palace area 5-6-7-8
13  City of Machouar Stinia, Imam Boukhari school Royal palace area 3-4


Casablanca region
Ten voting centers comprising nearly 50 polling stations were observed.

Laayoune region
Eastern sector [Oriental]. Polling centers in the Province of Oujda-Angad, covering five urban centers in the City of Oujda and one center in the rural area of the Province were observed.  A polling station was also observed in a rural area of the neighboring Province of Berkane [close to the Algerian border].


The observation team was welcomed in all polling stations observed. The team was free to inspect all documents held by the officials and volunteers at the polling stations and had free access to all parts of the polling stations.

The pre-election planning and organization was of the very highest standard. The consistency of the voting procedures in each polling station indicated the level of prior training and the success of that training.

The elections were responsibly held, well managed, and executed correctly with fully transparency.

There was uniformity, a common standardized conduct of the election officials in all the poling stations observed.

The voting was done so in total privacy and without any influence.

The level of security was evident but sufficiently removed from the voting process. At no stage was it considered oppressive or coercive.

The enthusiasm for the voting process was recognizable especially amongst the female voters.  It was very encouraging to witness the females vote in such numbers and commitment.

In the sub Sahara region there was no interference or influence over the voting process by political groups inspired by the political differences between Morocco and Algeria.

The members of the local administration (specifically the governors and walis) placed their entire operational means at the disposal of members of the observation team.

No incident relating to the course of the voting operations was noted by the team nor reported to the observers.


  • Active role of women in the voting process; strong women participation, exceeding that of the men in the majority of the polling stations observed;
  • Stronger general participation in rural areas than in urban environment


In some polling stations, the election officials filled out final reports before the closure of the poll, “to save time”.

  • Each polling station was allotted a number of ballots limited to the number of registered voters, thus precluding fraud. However, this also prevented voters, who made a mistake, from correcting their ballots.
  • In some polling station, the officials had three electoral lists according to article 58 paragraph 5 of the Electoral Code.
  • In some polling station, we noted the absence of the political parties’ delegates.
  • Some parties pay for their delegates, other parties use volunteers.
  • Many voting sites did not post the number of the polling stations.
  • In some polling stations voters presented  passports but was not allowed to vote  because a possible discrepancy in stated addresses. Moreover, the Electoral Code says that only the CIN or the family record book can serve as proof of identity.
  • In the majority of the voting centers, there was no one to direct the voters towards their specific polling station.
  • At some polling stations, only one voter at a time was allowed to enter the room, while at others, several voters were allowed at the same time.


6.1 Identification documents

Article 62 of the Electoral Code says that in addition to the voter registration card each voter must verify his/her identity with his/her national identity card (CIN) or family record book.

The ACD team recommends that the family record book should not be used as proof of identity because it lacks photo I.D. In the absence of photo identification, the family book record can be used by third parties and opens the door for fraud. Therefore, the team suggests retaining the national identity card (CIN) as the sole document for proof of identity.

6.2 Ballot & marking method

The current ballots and method of marking the ballots allowed for potential errors/fraud

The ballots are not stamped with marks identifying the zone. Thus they can potentially lead to error and fraud

Moreover, the use of a pen for marking the vote does not allow for any error particularly among older voters. Increasing the number of invalid votes.

The ballots allotted to each polling station correspond to the exact number of registered voters. The services of the Governor preserve an additional reserve of 10% in the event of incidents, but these additional ballots are not at the immediate disposal of the polling stations.

The team observed, that the marking of the ballots was a major cause for invalidating votes – accounting for more than 20% of the invalid ballots – because the ballots were marked improperly. In certain cases, the ballots were declared invalid because of an inadequate folding (the electoral Code does not contribute to clarify this point since it provides – article 62, paragraph 2 – says that the voter must “fold” the ballot before placing it “folded” in the ballot box. However the ballots given to the voters are already partially folded.

We recommend three measures to improve the legitimacy of the votes:

a) Although the authorities and political parties invested time and effort to inform the voters on how to vote, clear instructions posted in the voting booths would help to reduce errors and invalid votes.

b) A reserve of 10% of additional ballots could be allotted to each polling station to make it possible for the voter to fulfill the electoral duty. To prevent possible fraud, the additional ballots should be counted before the opening of the polling stations and when they close. The invalid ballots should be annexed to the official report.

c) The marking method itself could be improved by using a pre-inked stamp or seal.

6.3 Delegates of the political parties

The team spoke privately with delegates from several political parties – some paid for their services, others volunteered. The presence of party delegates to monitor the election is a right provided by article 58 of the Electoral Code. However, not all parties have enough resources to allocate delegates to all polling stations.

Since Article 58 of the Electoral Code is an important to ensure transparency and accountability of the election, thus reinforcing the democratic process, the team suggests to provide all political parties a specific and uniform financial contribution of a minimal amount enabling them to ensure this right.

6.4 Orientation of the voters

The mission noted the useful presence, although rare, of an agent placed at the entry of the voting centers in charge of quickly directing the voters, specifically older people, towards the polling station corresponding to their registration on the electoral rolls.

This practical measure is relatively simple to implement, and makes it possible to considerably increase the fluidity of the voting process. In adverse cases, the mission noted that the absence of such an agent in the large school complexes comprising several polling stations slows down, and even disturbs the electoral process, in particular when officials of the polling stations stop their service in order to contribute to the orientation of the voters.

7. Conclusion: encouraging results, challenges for the next elections

The increasing participation of women in the political life is an obvious sign of democratic vitality. The election of Fatima Zahra Mansouri, a 33-year-old lawyer as Mayor in Marrakesh (the second female Mayor in Morocco) highlights the efforts carried out by the kingdom to increase the status of women on the democratic scene.

Women electoral representation

Election 1993 1997 1997 2002 2003 2007 2009
% Elected 0.90% 0.62% N.D. 10.77% 0.52% 10.47% 12.3%
Legislative Elections Municipal Elections

The election results show a high renewal rate of the municipal elected officials (61%).

The turnout rate, relatively stable since 2002, could be further encouraged by civic campaigns, better information to the public, and simplification of the voting procedure (especially on the ID and ballot issues).

Evolution of the turnout rate in 20 years

Election 1993 1997 1997 2002 2003 2007 2009
Turnout rate 63.75% 58.30% 75% 52% 54.16 37% 52.4%
Legislative Elections Municipal Elections

An important challenge for the success of future Moroccan elections lies in the ability to reduce the rate of the invalid votes (blank and null ballots). The invalid votes in Morocco account for about 10% in the local elections. In comparison the rate is 3.80% in France, and 2.60% in Spain. Several measures could significantly reduce this rate.

Evolution of the rate of blank and null votes

Election 1993 1997 1997 2002 2003 2007 2009
Invalid votes 13.01% 14.55% N.D. 17.15 9.74% 19% 11%
Legislative Elections Municipal Elections



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