Citizen election monitoring through SMS

In Western Africa, the organisation HELP successfully set up a monitoring exercise of the presidential elections in 2007 using the FrontlineSMS software in a website where volunteers could register and feed the database using their mobile phones. The Human Emancipation Lead Project HELP are a non-profit group of young professionals in Nigeria advocating for social change through good governance. Their goal is to encourage the Nigerian electorate to participate in the electoral process.

The 2007 Presidential elections presented a 'vital opportunity to truly change the cause of things for good for the common Nigerian by ensuring that a transparent and acceptable general election is conducted'.

HELP installed FrontlineSMS onto a single machine, obtained a phone and a new SIM card and began working on the monitoring process. Part of this involved the creation of a website to encourage the general public to register as volunteers and to detail ways they could engage in the process. Individuals registered their mobiles by texting their names, location and polling station to the new NMEM election monitoring hub. Each volunteer was then registered on the FrontlineSMS system.

On election day itself volunteers were asked to send in two reports, the first to contain details of when the polling station opened, of voter accreditation and of the ballot box delivery times. The second was due when the polls closed and was to contain information on the result, counting processes, turnout and general conduct of the election. The process was a great success - 11,000 messages were sent in to the SMS hub.