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[liberationtech] Web cams in polling stations/helpful?

David Jandura djandura at ifes.org
Mon Feb 13 07:40:35 PST 2012


Hi Luke,

Thanks for this link.  I think you're correct to note that the country specific context is very import.  Another important aspect to note is that, like with every transparency initiative (making public record available, etc..) it's not enough to simply produce the information and assume civil society will use it.  With that being said, you might be interested in this experiment done in Afghanistan:<http://www-igcc.ucsd.edu/assets/001/502329.pdf> In this case, local monitors took photographs of the final tally sheets in local Afghan polling stations, which was shown to reduce fraud by 60%.  Of course this is measuring the final count, not the actual process. (Afghanistan has a decentralized election administration and local results are transmitted to a central location).

While this is an innovative idea, I'm not sure how it's better than simple election observation. Parallel Vote Tabulations<http://www.democracyinternational.com/publications/vote-count-verification-user%E2%80%99s-guide-funders-implementers-and-stakeholders> have demonstrated success with monitoring the actual counting process.  Also, vote buying through some "carousel voting" techniques would not be observed through watching the main room.  I think it would be best if they randomly assigned the web cameras to certain polling stations in order to measure if it was actually effective in reducing fraud or not.


Best,


David Jandura | Research Coordinator | IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems)
1850 K Street NW, Fifth Floor | Washington, D.C. 20006 | * +1 202-350-6742 | Skype: david.jandura
www.ifes.org<http://www.ifes.org/> | www.electionguide.org<http://www.electionguide.org/>

IFES promotes democratic stability by providing technical assistance and applying field-based research to the electoral cycle worldwide to enhance citizen participation and strengthen civil societies, governance and transparency.

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From: liberationtech-bounces at lists.stanford.edu [mailto:liberationtech-bounces at lists.stanford.edu] On Behalf Of Luke Allnutt
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 6:11 AM
To: liberationtech at mailman.stanford.edu
Subject: [liberationtech] Web cams in polling stations/helpful?


Dear All,

I'm looking into the question of whether having web cams in polling stations is a positive for transparency and fair elections. The story is related to Russia's plans to install web cameras in polling stations across Russia for the March presidential election.

http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2012/02/06/russia-launches-election-monitoring-website/

Obviously, Russia is a special case. Even if the web cams did provide transparency, there are enough other factors that put the fairness of the election into question: e.g. skewed media, workers being asked to vote en masse etc. In my opinion, this endeavor ties into the Kremlin's use of technology to present a facade of progress and transparency, without giving up much in terms of real democratization.

But I'm more interested in whether, across the world, this is something that the election monitoring community thinks is a good thing and whether it aids transparency?

In some societies, surely, the presence of a web cam in a polling station would be unwelcome: people might feel they are being watched by their government/friends/employers and that would influence their voting.

If anyone has any thoughts on this matter, on list or off list, I would love to pick your brains for the story.  Any help would be much appreciated, as ever.

Best Wishes,

Luke
RFE/RL
@lukeallnutt





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