The 2016 US presidential election is geared to be a close vote as Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump appear neck-and-neck in early voting and in most projections. And a Kenyan start-up has taken it upon itself to keep things free and fair on Tuesday.
Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony”) has deployed its crowdsourcing platform to allow US citizens to flag instances of “voting irregularities or voter suppression” on Election Day.
Crowdsourcing involves obtaining information by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the internet.
The USA Election Monitor tracks voting irregularities reported on its website, by email, text and on social media and posts the results on an interactive map .
“Our honest hope is that all of this is for naught, and that end of the day Tuesday we look at all the reports and that 99.9% of reports say: ‘Everything went great!’ But if something does go wrong, or if people’s rights are suppressed, then we will be there to help them escalate the issue and bring attention to the perpetrators,” Ushahidi COO Nathaniel Manning is quoted as saying on its website.
The service isn’t new. The company’s election monitoring technology was originally created in response to Kenya’s violent 2007-08 elections and has since “gained global recognition as a highly effective tool for digitally mapping demographic events anywhere around the world,” according to a TechCrunch report.
Its founders claim the software has been deployed 100,000 times in 160 countries. Back in 2012, it was used to monitor the US presidential election primarily for polling by the Barack Obama campaign.
Ushahidi stepped in for the 2016 US presidential election because it legitimacy has been repeatedly called into question by the Republican nominee. Trump has on numerous occasions alleged that the electoral system was “rigged” and refused to say whether he would accept the outcome if he loses.
Some Trump supporters have even threatened to take up arms if their leader is deemed to have lost unfairly, and the election monitor will be able to map any incidents of violence that take place.
For the complete coverage of the 2016 US presidential election, click here.