VoteReportPH Ushahidi Implementation

[Guest blog post: Ankit Sharma is a Masters student at the Information Systems and Innovation Group at the London School of Economics. He is currently interning with Ushahidi. His interests include studying the role of information and communication technologies in aggregating crisis information and managing crisis response.]
The blog post is about the deployment of the Ushahidi platform in Philippines by the Computer Professionals Union (CPU). The deployment named VoteReportPH was an effort to monitor the 2010 Philippines Elections by providing a tool for the collection and monitoring of the data about the electoral process. Additionally, it is expected that the collected data will serve as a starting point for future legal and political action.

This initiative was quite unique in terms of its overall implementation process. The VoteReportPH team in addition to providing a forum to collate election data also got involved in a voter education campaign in order to inform the voters about the voting process.  In these elections it was the first time that an automated election system (AES) was used in the Philippines. Therefore, it was extremely important that the voters were made aware of the nature of the AES voting process.  Additionally, VoteReportPH conducted trainings for the election monitors to instruct them about the manner in which they are expected to share information with the VoteReportPH platform. The VoteReportPH team had also setup their own blog to highlight the most urgent reports of the vote fraud.  In appreciation of its comprehensive and novel implementation strategy, the Technology for Transparency Network praised the VoteReportPH team for the implementation of the Ushahidi platform.
VoteReportPH received almost three thousand SMS reports from election monitors spread across different parts of the Philippines during the elections. Initially, the reports were sent to their office in Julu, Philippines.  Subsequently, the reports collected from the election monitors, most of whom were volunteers, were aggregated and visualized using the Ushahidi platform. Afterwards, the verified reports were then sent to Kontra Daya, an electoral watchdog which the Computer Professional Union (CPU) collaborated with during the elections for their VoteReportPH initiative. As part of the initiative, the application of Frontline SMS was also used to send out information to the election monitors working in the field during the elections. This helped in maintaining proper communication with the election monitors.
In spite of its apparent success, however, the implementers do acknowledge that the task of completely identifying the extent of fraud in the elections remains extremely challenging. We believe that to better ensure success of similar initiatives in the future it is important to garner support of the public & the government, and to further standardize the data collection & data aggregation process of the platform. If appropriate lessons are learned from VoteMonitorPH implementation,and other similar initiatives, we expect that the overall effectiveness and relevance of similar initiatives can be improved further thereby leading to a reliable electoral process. Hopefully, all these goals will be achieved in the near future!