This post is also available in: Français (French) العربية (Arabic)

To support free, open, and fair elections in the Middle East and North Africa, Democracy International (DI)—with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI)—is partnered with organizations in the region to develop, test, and support the adoption of new technologies for domestic election monitoring to increase transparency and citizens’ participation to the electoral process. The Election Monitoring Innovation Network program has been operating for a little over one year, with partners in Tunisia and Lebanon; despite delayed elections in both countries, the pilot projects listed below are well underway. Take a look at these project summaries and follow us in the coming months as we share our partners’ progress.

Tunisia: Mapping Polling Centers with Mourakiboun

Mourakiboun has mobilized its nationwide network of volunteers to map the 4,800+ polling centers that were used in the 2011 National Constituent Assembly (NCA) elections. The goal of this project is to generate a dynamic map to be used for a range of purposes, including: 1) providing election officials with a valuable tool for allocating human and financial resources more efficiently in future elections; 2) offering political parties, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders a resource to facilitate strategic planning and outreach efforts; and 3) facilitating data visualization of data at the local, polling center level to promote greater transparency, accountability, and understanding of the electoral process. As a byproduct of the mapping project, Mourakiboun will map thousands of kilometers of road and nearly every elementary school in Tunisia, then making it open so that everyone – from the government to Google – can benefit from the data.

Tunisia: Tunisia Election Data platform with: OpenGovTN, Mourakiboun, NRG & Development Seed

The Tunisia Election Data project will collect, open, visualize, and analyze election-related data on an ongoing basis. The goal of Tunisia Election Data is to provide a range of stakeholders – electoral officials, political parties, civic organizations, media, citizens, etc. – with better information that enables them to make better decisions that lead to better outcomes regarding the electoral process. Specifically, the platform will: 1) serves as a centralized hub of election-related data, maps, and analysis that facilitates data-driven decision-making; 2) presents information in a highly accessible format so that stakeholders can measure progress and identify trends from one election cycle to the next; and 3) provides a meaningful lens through which electoral developments and observation findings can be contextualized and understood. The polling center map being created by Mourakiboun will be layered with other maps to visualize voter turnout and results trends at the smallest unit of analysis.

Tunisia: Hybrid Election Observation & Crowdsourcing with: I WATCH, Souktel, Modi Research Lab, Citivox  & NRG

This pilot will combine traditional domestic observation methodology with crowdsourcing tools and techniques to provide a new way of engaging citizens in the electoral process. Citivox will develop an online platform enabling I WATCH’s accredited observers to: 1) register online; 2) select the polling centers at which they will observe; 3) receive voter education and training through videos created by I WATCH; 4) report findings via SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems developed by Souktel, and Formhub , a web-form and smartphone app developed by Modi Research Lab. These online registration and educational tools will also be available for citizen observers who will provide supplementary feedback to their accredited counterparts during Election Day. The platform will visualize observer and citizen reports on maps and graphs in real time throughout the electoral process, as well as provide other ways for the public to engage with the platform, such as quick surveys and online election-related games. I WATCH will recruit citizen and accredited observers via a series of citizen engagement initiatives, including animated videos and a guerrilla publicity campaign.

Lebanon: #LebOnline Citizen Engagement Platform with: Social Media Exchange (SMEX), Lamba Labs, Sign.al/Completure, NRG

#LebOnline applies a bottom-up, community-driven approach that enables citizens to identify and report on issues related to democracy and human rights, such as access to information, internet freedom, data privacy, etc. #LebOnline aims to reduce barriers to citizen participation in, and awareness of, these and other issues. The #LebOnline platform built by Lamba Labs aggregates information from Twitter and Completure, a smartphone application that enables ordinary citizens to create systemically-verified content through geo-tagged time-stamped images and allows the community to vote on the significance of a story. #LebOnline will aggregate information around key issues that emerge from the platform’s forums and discussion groups, and then create timebound petitions to appeal for change on major issues. #LebOnline will then curate and package citizen feedback to political parties, media, civil society, etc. in a highly accessible format, using maps and charts, to highlight national concerns about access, connectivity, privacy and other issues that affect Lebanon’s growing online community. The #LebOnline platform has the flexibility to track trends and public concerns around other major issues and events, namely the upcoming elections, and it is anticipated the platform will be used to increase citizen participation in Lebanon’s electoral process.

Lebanon: Lebanon Election Data with: Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE), Lamba Labs, NRG & Development Seed

The Lebanon Election Data project will collect, open, visualize, and analyze election-related data on an ongoing basis. Lebanon Election Data will make previously inaccessible data on the electoral process – obtained by LADE from official sources – open and available to the public to promote greater transparency, accountability, understanding and reform. This data will be used to create visualizations that demonstrate trends at the district level in voter registration, turnout and more. As new electoral datasets become available, they will be layered on top of the existing geospatial visualizations to illustrate longitudinal changes. Non-election-related, but contextually useful datasets – demographic, socio-economic, infrastructural, etc. – may be added as reference layers to existing maps.