In my article: ”Internet and democracy, empowering citizens to promote transparency and fairness in elections” posted ten days ago, I suggested that Ushahidi model could be used to empower citizen to monitor the election process in countries that are about to kick off their democratic transition journey through an open election.
However, as the election in Sudan started earlier this week and while I was doing a further research on the topic upon the feedback i received from the readers, I’ve discovered a lovely fact: the model is already there and was developed by Ushahidi! The citizen-monitored election was implemented in 2009 in India and Mexico, but more exciting it is up and running for the current election in Sudan!
Through the website: http://www.sudanvotemonitor.com, citizens and observers can report any suspicious behavior that could affect the fairness and transparency of the voting process. Such behavior could range from defamation to vote tampering.
According to the official statistics provided by the website at the end of the first voting day, the website reported a total of 52 online reports in 12 categories, and 106 SMS messages from 253 locations across Sudan. The “red dots” covered wide range of Sudan’s vast land from Halfa in the North to Yei town near the Southern borders with Congo.
Of course, it’s too early to judge on the statistics as it is only the first day but it would be great if we can have some benchmarking to similar sites in Mexico and India. I’ve to add that it’s not clear how the website is being promoted, I myself has discovered the website through Tweeter which is not popular in Sudan. However, more marketing activities on more popular channels are needed. Few weeks from now, and when we reach the end of the election process, we can have real data to discuss the issues highlighted in my earlier post and raised through readers comment such as the challenge of identifying and isolating the “fake” claims (the website allows users to report incidents anonymously ).
After all, it’s great to see the technology empowering the Sudanese citizens to take action and participate in monitoring the country’s first election in 25 years.
I believe that the website has a great potential to improve with the continuous work on the model itself and the effective utilization of users feedback.