Crowdsourcing the Elections in Afghanistan

A Joint Electoral Management Body employee, ri...Image via Wikipedia

Remember Ushahidi (Erik Hersman, Video of the Week, July 25)? Ushahidi is a GoogleMap mashup that allowed Kenyans to report and track violence via cell phone texts following the 2008 elections.

Now Ushahidi is powering Alive in Afghanistan, and is crowdsourcing today’s election.

About Alive in Afghanistan:

Alive in Afghanistan is an independent, non-partisan project, formed in response to the huge success of Alive in Baghdad and Alive in Gaza and the result of the hard work and collaboration of many partners and individuals. Alive in Afghanistan empowers Afghan citizens to participate in society by reporting on their political process. Alive in Afghanistan is launching in time for the August 20th presidential elections so that people across Afghanistan can report fairly on the elections and related events through SMS, email, and the web.

We recognize that, given limitations of access to technology, it may be a limited subset of the privileged who will be able to use Alive in Afghanistan’s open system to report on the election. Despite the limitation we feel that, as long as recognition is given, the potential impact of the project is still such that we should go forward, doing our best to provide access to all.

We have partnered with Pajhwok Afghan News in order to combine citizen reporting with focused, concise reports from professional journalists throughout Afghanistan.

There are reportedly 15.6 million registered voters, roughly half of the country’s population; 35 to 38 percent of registered voters are women. The Taliban has threatened to cut off the fingers of voters. The Government of Afghanistan has ordered a media blackout.

Sample of the Alive in Afghanistan user feed stream:

Explosion kills 2 police
Explosion kills 2 police in Khoqyani district, Nangahar

Injuries from Taliban attack on polls
3 men 1 woman voter injured by Taliban attacks on polls in Laghman

Reporters Harrassed
ALERT – Paktika reporter – had his camera taken away by intelligence services. He was shooting photos of men using women’s voter cards. UPDATE – Several reporters did have their cameras confiscated in Kabul, but not a reporter with Pahjwok.

Taliban radio issues threats
Taliban radio Shariat Paktia warn of cutting voters’ fingers

Taliban radio issues threats
Taliban radio Shariat in Ghazni warn of cutting voters’ fingers

Fraud and Mischief in Faryab villages
A voter in Faryab province reported from two villages, telling us that in Gaqhato village, the nephew of General Farooq used a woman’s voter card, and in another village Karghaitu, one person named Said Amin threatened people to make them vote for him in provincial council elections. (via phone)

Men using women’s ID
Men using women’s voter cards in Paktia province