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Ukraine: Technology for Transparent Elections

On October 28, Ukrainians will elect their parliament. With the current president‘s main political opponent in jail, the upcoming elections come under increasing attention from the international community.

Amidst mounting allegations of the ruling party’s use of administrative resource during election campaign, the current Ukrainian government has pledged to keep the elections free and fair and accommodated over 3,700 international observers.

Ukraine’s Ministry of the Interior has decided to utilize crowdmapping and set up an Ushahidi-based map of registered violations [uk]. According to the officials, the aim of their initiative is to “help society form an objective opinion about the course of the 2012 election-related events” [uk].

To ensure electoral transparency and to check the government's pledges for themselves, local election monitoring groups, too, have been using new technology.

OPORA

Civic network OPORA [en] has utilized an interactive map [en, uk] that contains full information about all the 225 electoral districts and 33,000 polling stations, including contacts of the local commissions overseeing the vote. The monitoring is conducted by 3,800 professional observers, and when violations are recorded, they place their findings on the map, along with the available photo and video evidence. The group also uses crowdsourcing – anyone may submit information about violations via a hotline or through an online form [uk, en]. After verification, these messages are also published on the map. On the Election Day, OPORA plans to conduct a statistics-based quick count of the votes utilizing SMS and GSM technology, in order to verify the election results.

Maidan.org.ua

Online citizen activism hub Maidan.org.ua [uk] has launched a project called “Maidan-monitoring” [en], which utilizes crowdmapping and visualizes the findings on an Ushahidi-based map of violations [en, uk]. The main difference of Maidan’s project from the classic crowdsourcing initiatives is that it makes an effort to verify every piece of information it receives before publishing it online. An additional project of Maidan.org.ua – the “People’s CEC [Central Election Commission]” [uk] – calls on election commission members and ordinary voters to submit electronic photographs of the final voting protocols that are later posted online in order to prevent any manipulations with the election results.

ElectUa.org

Another non-partisan crowdsourcing election-monitoring project, ElectUa [uk, en; GV roundup] by Internews-Ukraine, also uses a map to visualize reported violations, and utilizes “smart crowdsourcing,” verifying every report before publishing it online. The project has grown from the previously successful Twitter-broadcasts of the 2009 and 2010 elections that contributed significantly to the promotion of crowdsourcing technology and Twitter in Ukraine [en]. Messages for ElectUA 2012 can be submitted via e-mail, SMS, phone, as well as the project's website, Facebook or Twitter.

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