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To Celebrate or Morn Ushahidi For USA Elections?

By Wayan Vota on November 8, 2016

ushahidi-usa
Today Americans go to the polls across the country to choose the next President of the United States. Yet, leading up to this day, there was much talk of long lines, ballot issues, voter suppression, and witnessing violence – all depressing thoughts to Nat Manning, who was upset by this awful attempt to undermine that beautiful thing we call transition of power and the will of the people.

Like many of us, Nat is often inspired to do something about issues he cares about, and luckily he knows something about election monitoring software, so he set up usaElectionmonitor.com and mobilized a team of volunteers to track the US election with Ushahidi, a software designed by Kenyans and Americans to track the Kenyan elections. It wasn’t just Nat, either.

“There are some issues in this U.S. election that are pretty unprecedented around voter suppression and other voting irregularities,” said Ushahidi’s Executive Director Daudi Were to TechCrunch. “Ushahidi does election monitoring in 40 countries around the world. We said: ‘Why not for the U.S.?’ The system also allows for reporting positive experiences and no issues at all.”

So now we have come full circle, with Kenyans monitoring American elections.

To Celebrate or Morn?

At first read, I was quite disappointed that American democracy has fallen so low that we now need help from those who work actual violent power transfers, but then Nat put this Ushahidi deployment into perspective.

Ushahidi was the primary tool used by the Obama campaign in 2012 to monitor election fraud, and by the Election Protection Committee in 2012 to help run 866-our-vote. This year the campaigns built their own tools, and Ushahidi is helping with advice, best practices, and general support. So Ushahidi USA isn’t unprecedented, though that we need it at all is a telling testament to our democracy’s fragility.

Elections themselves are run incredibly well in America – it’s the state of the conversation and the campaigns around them that are chipping at the foundations of what makes America, America.

Let’s hope that Ushahidi USA isn’t needed this year – or any other.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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One Comment to “To Celebrate or Morn Ushahidi For USA Elections?”

  1. McTim says:

    mourn