Following the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority in 1993, the first elections commission was formed to administer the first Palestinian Presidential and Legislative elections in 1996. At that time, the Elections Commission was still part of the PNA. However, later on, the Palestinian leadership felt the need of forming an independent elections commission to enrich the principle of neutrality, thus the Current Independent Central Elections Commission was formed in 2002.
The Central Elections Commission(CEC) was established in October 2002 under General Elections Law of 1995. The elections Law issued on August 2005 stressed that the CEC is “ the supreme body that undertakes the management, supervision, preparation and organization of elections and to take all necessary measures to ensure its integrity and freedom’’. Article 22 of the said law considers the CEC as a permanent body with corporate personality and administrative and financial independence.
The CEC consists of a board of nine members ‘Commissioners’, including the Chairman and the Secretary-General, who are appointed by a presidential decree by the President of the Palestinian National Authority (Article 19 of the Electoral Law) . The Commissioners are selected from among the judges and senior academics and lawyers with outstanding experience and political impartiality as specified in Article 20 of the said law. The CEC upholds the highest standards of transparency and accountability as reflected by the code of conduct adopted by Commissioners and employees. The CEC work is subject to administrative and financial audit by prestigious audit firms and the Palestinian State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau.
The electoral administration, led by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) who is appointed by the Commission carries out the Elections duties and consists of the Central Elections Bureau located in Al-Bireh and the Elections Regional Office in the Gaza Strip, in addition to the election offices in each of the sixteen electoral districts.
The CEC oversees the organization and implementation of the electoral processes. The law in question (Article 23) sets the tasks and core competencies of the CEC which includes, but not limited to: to apply the provisions of law and the regulations issued thereunder; prepare of draft regulations in accordance with provisions of the law; draft the code of conduct for observers and agents; develop internal regulations governing the work of the Commission; appoint of staff and consultants working in its offices; oversee the work of the district offices and the Central Elections Bureau and monitor the implementation of the provisions of the law; register electoral lists; approve the nomination applications for the position of President and members of the Legislative Council, prepare and publish the final list of candidates; organize media and civic education campaigns; adjucate election appeals; accredit local and international observers; announce the final election results, etc.
Under the Local Council Elections law No. (10) of 2005, the Central Election Commission became responsible for the organizing of local elections in addition to its responsibilities in organizing the election of the President of the State of Palestine and members of the Legislative Council.
In addition to the above responsibilities, the CEC plays a prominent role in the Palestinian Community by contributing to the promotion of social stability and empowering citizens to participate actively in the public life through the free election of their representatives while they interact and respond through the electoral process with the needs of others.
The CEC has succeeded so far in organizing several electoral operations and activities with remarkable success, including the election of the President of the Palestinian National Authority in January 2005 the elections of members of the Legislative Council in January 2006, local council elections in October 2012 and May 2017, in addition to several operations for voter registration and updating of the voters registry;