Uchaguzi.or.tz allows anyone with a mobile phone to report on the election as it happens, wherever they are. This means that candidates and polling stations can no longer breaks the rules knowing that they are out of the view of formal election observers and the traditional media. Any citizen who sees something happening that shouldn't be happening can send an anonymous report that will be posted as text and highlighted on a map on the uchaguzi.or.tz site.
So what can you do as a citizen? How can you become part of a national election monitoring exercise?
It's very simple. If you see any of the following things happening:
- missing ballot papers
- problems with the voter register
- polling stations opening after 7am or closing before 4pm
- voter intimidation
- vote buying
- official party representatives being denied entry to polling stations to observe voting or counting
- heavy presence of policy or security forces
- use of force by police or security forces
- hate speech
- anything else good or bad that you see happening as part of the election
Alternatively, you can send your report in an email to email@example.com, complete this form on the uchaguzi.or.tz website, or if you're on twitter, send a tweet with the hashtag #uchaguzi or #humanrightstz.
In all cases, your report is anonymous. Where possible, messages will be verified with known contacts in the area.
The only way a tool like this works is if people know about it and if it develops momentum. So go out and tell people about it, and go out and use it.
For those who are unfamiliar with Ushahidi, it is a tool that was developed very quickly by a group of bloggers in the aftermath of the troubled Kenyan general election of 2008. It has since been used in a wide variety of situations around the world, notably including Afghanistan and Haiti.