Here’s an interesting question for everyone working on transparency, accountability and corruption: How can election monitoring contribute to promoting democracy, human rights and good governance?
The question is posed by the New Tactics in Human Rights Project and the discussions on this and other questions can be accessed here.
Elections are an ideal opportunity for looking into how social media concepts can be used to support a fair and democratic process of choosing a country’s government. Lack of transparency goes hand in hand with opportunities for fraud and undue influence, from the very practical measure of excluding electoral observers, to the more complex uncertainty about the amounts of monies spent in the campaign. Already, a range of tools are used to monitor elections and election day irregularities.
Let me just give you two examples:
- A very nice one, is the iChoose Election Observer, a complaint database developed by Transparency Maldives, fulfilling two objectives: to facilitate the reporting of election-related complaints to the proper authorities on the one hand; and to monitor how these complaints are being processed on the other.
It shows a very practical way of on election day monitoring, engaging citizens, combining text messaging, social media (a facebook group ), and a very effective way of making fraudulent action transparent.
- The second example is a project called Base de Datos de Publicidad Oficial (Data base of Official Publicity) by Transparency International’s national chapter in Argentina, Poder Ciudadano, that lists the money spent by the government to the media on advertising. The main part of the project is a searchable data base including the allocation of official advertising since 2000 for all channels, such as radio, TV, cinema, newspapers etc.
The New Tactics in Human Rights Project promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community, by promoting the use and sharing of as wide a range of tactics as possible. One of its tools are debates held online, open for everyone for discussion.
Transparency International has initiated a project on political finance and campaign financing in Latin America, now being adapted to other regions.
But, as one discussion entry rightly states,
“Election observation should (…) not be a one-off event. Institutions and organisations should make a firm commitment to stay involved, not only by observing consecutive elections, but also by staying engaged in between elections.”
And I would maybe add, every citizen needs to stay engaged in between elections, holding their leaders accountable.