Friday, July 20, 2012

Crowdsourcing Election Data

During this cycle of elections in the post-Soviet world, mobile technology has played an important role in providing information about on-the-ground activities in real time. Crowd-sourcing produces noise - notably in the potential for trolls to insert false reports and selection effects in reporting (with large urban centers more likely to have submissions) - but also provides valuable information about how elections are administered. Citizen-led monitoring efforts did not originate in the region, but they reached a large scale in Russia's recent elections (http://www.kartanarusheniy.org/). Two upcoming elections in the fall, in Georgia and Ukraine, will also feature online, real-time monitoring with data already appearing online. Maidan (http://maidan.org.ua/ with reports here: http://maidanua.org/vybory2012/) and Elections Portal (http://www.electionsportal.ge/ge/) are tracking reports of alleged violations. Other projects are planned, and I will post links when they are online.

These efforts, coupled with state-sanctioned webcams in polling stations, will provide the public, media, and scholars access to new kinds of data that could produce valuable insights about how elections are conducted and perceived.