December 3, 2013
SMS to Help Monitor Elections in the Arab World
Civil society organisations in Egypt and Tunisia are investigating quicker, more effective ways of monitoring elections using text messaging. AllAfrica reports.
In one new system tested in three African countries, SMS monitoring is carried out by hundreds of observers who send a stream of coded reports from polling stations via text messages from their mobile phones. The information is fed into a "situation room" where it is converted into a map that automatically updates as more data are added. Where problems are spotted, officials can be alerted.
The map uses symbols to represent real-time information on, for example, where poll centres have not opened, whether they are fully staffed, lack security personnel, or where there are instances of intimidation or misconduct of officials. The system can also keep track of vote tallies.
After hundreds of volunteers used SMS messages to monitor voting in Senegal last year, the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for the Elections (COSCE) issued a statement confirming that the official tallies "faithfully reflect the will expressed at the polls during the second round of voting in the presidential election.
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