Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
RSS icon

Ukraine Parliamentary Elections: using crowdsourcing for transparency and democracy

Elections in Ukraine

The "Orange Revolution" was a series of protests and political upheavals in Ukraine that lasted from late November 2004 to January 2005. The protests were triggered by the results of the 2004 presidential election, which was fraught with accusations of massive corruption, voter intimidation, and direct electoral fraud.

The capitol city, Kiev, was the focal point of the movement's campaign of civil resistance, with thousands of protesters demonstrating daily.  Nationwide, the opposition movement organized a series of acts of civil disobedience, sit-ins, and general strikes in an attempt to call for new elections. 

The protests were prompted by reports from several domestic and foreign election monitors, as well as widespread public perception, that the results of the vote on November 21, 2004 between leading candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych were rigged by the authorities in favor of Yanukovych.

The nationwide protests succeeded when the results of the original run-off were annulled, and the Ukrainian Supreme Court ordered a revote for December 26, 2004. A second run-off, conducted under intense scrutiny by domestic and international observers, was declared to be "fair and free." The final results showed a clear victory for Yushchenko, who received roughly 52 percent of the vote, compared to Yanukovych's 44 percent. Yushchenko was declared the official winner, and with his inauguration on January 23, 2005 in Kiev, the Orange Revolution ended.

Throughout the 2004 demonstrations, Internet usage emerged as an integral part of the Orange Revolution. Several analysts suggested that the Orange Revolution was the first example of an Internet-organized mass protest, with the Internet and mobile phones allowing an alternative media to flourish in the country that was not subject to self-censorship or overt control by President Kuchma and his allies. In examining the usage of these new tools by pro-democracy activists, it is clear that they leveraged mobile phones and the Internet to coordinate election monitoring and mass protests on the ground. 

In the next Ukrainian parliamentary election that will take place on October 28, 2012, Internews Ukraine, a local NGO supported by Internews, will run an election monitoring project throughout the entire country by using a mix of crowdsourcing, professional electoral monitoring, and media monitoring, leveraging the use of new technologies like mobile phones, social media and the internet. 

The Platform

The Crowdsourcing platform is being created by CityVox, a company that created a proprietary platform that allows for complex data filtering, tagging and processing in the back end, combined with customizable user interfaces. The user interface of the platform is being build by Development Seed.

The website will show a map of the country with two separate layers of information: verified and not verified information. Data analysis tools will be added to the home page to allow users to look at trends and information sources analysis, aside from the map itself.  Civic education documentation, as well as electoral material, will also be available on the website to allow citizens to find relevant material about the elections.

 

Sources of Information

The main sources of information for this monitoring project will include:

  • Electoral monitors:
    • Opora is a non-governmental, non-political and financially independent nationwide network of public activists. The network has teamed up to enhance public participation in the political process by developing and implementing models of citizens’ influence on the activities of state and local government in Ukraine. For elections, the network provides comprehensive long-term monitoring and analysis of the electoral process and program activities of political parties in Ukraine, as well as trained professional monitors during the elections period.
    • ENEMO is the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations, a group of 21 civic organizations from seventeen countries of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. These nonpartisan organizations are the leading domestic election monitoring groups in their countries. In total, ENEMO member organizations have observed more than 110 national elections and trained more than 100,000 election monitors. ENEMO seeks to support the international community's interest in and support for democracy in the post-communist countries of the OSCE region, to assess electoral conditions and the political environment, and to offer accurate and impartial observation reports. ENEMO international observation missions evaluate the electoral process using international standards for democratic and fair elections and benchmarks in the assessed country's legislation and constitution.
    • Other partners will be joining the team.
    • Journalists Trained by Internews Ukraine: Internews Ukraine is recruiting and training several journalists (number not specified yet) to participate in the project by writing stories and articles about the election process and reporting from polling sites on election day. These journalists will be dispersed across the country to ensure geographical coverage, and will report to the Ukraine Mapping platform on a constant basis.
    • The Crowd: people from all over the country will be able to report into the platform by using different means of communication:
    1. SMS/MMS
    2. Call Center
    3. Twitter
    4. Facebook App
    5. Online Web-form
    6. E-Mail 

The information collected

The Internews Ukraine team will be collecting information about electoral violations, looking specifically at election day and electoral campaigns.

Violations During Election Campaign include (this is a draft list):

  • Vote purchase
  • Obstruction of public assembly
  • Prohibition of journalist coverage/access
  • Use of official authority for illegal purposes
  • Influence of law-enforcement authorities
  • Pressure on voters 
  • Violations of candidates' rights
  • Other violations

Election Day Violations include (this is a draft list):

  • Polling station registration violation
  • Voter influence
  • Violation of secrecy of ballot
  • Absentee ballot violation
  • Mobile voting violations/illegal voting
  • Election scoring rules violation
  • Results distortion
  • Exclusion of citizens in the list of voters
  • Observers, members of election committee and media representatives' rights violation                            
  • Other violations 

Information Processing and Verification

Because of the two-layer map design and emphasis on verification in this project, the Internews Ukraine team is working on the creation of a two-step review/verification process and a Platform team comprised of 1) senior moderator/administrator, 2) moderators, and 3) verifiers.

Senior Moderator/Admin

The platform will be managed by one senior moderator who oversees daily workflow, manages a team of managers, and also serves as moderator and verifier as needed.

Moderator/Verifier Team

An initial team of 3 moderators will be expanded as needed as report flow increases.

As report flow increases, the team will split into 2 groups:  1) Moderators who will conduct the initial review of reports and edit and post them onto the “Layer 2” map, and 2) Verifiers who will be responsible for verifying each report and “moving” each verified report from the Layer 2 map to the Layer 1 map.

The initial team of moderators will perform both initial review and verification. As the volume of reports increases over time, the team will grow and members will be assigned to be moderators and verifiers until the team is composed of 18 people (working full-time to cover all 24/7).  

The moderators of the system will conduct a preliminary analysis of content.  Before being publicly posted, all reports will be:

  • Edited to make sure that essential information is highlighted
  • Edited for spelling (ensuring that all places, names, etc. are accurate)
  • “Anonymized”
  • Geolocated

Note: all reports will be saved in a database, so that nothing will be permanently deleted.

Verification

The posting of a report on Layer 2 means that a careful verification process has been completed, with the report having been scrutinized in all  components.

The verification protocol is being developed (more to come in upcoming days), but is based on the following principles:

  • Report should contain picture, video, or audio evidence
  • Verifier should ensure there are no security problems related to the reporter 
  • Analysis of Twitter or Facebook handle/profile/content
  • Corroborating reports from different sources, either through same or different channels
 

The Dashboard Functionality

The dashboard used by the admin team will be able to sort and show reports at every step of the process from reception, through verification and posting on the Layer 1 map. Dashboard users (moderators and verifiers) will be able to view and sort reports in the dashboard according to:

  • Received, awaiting initial review/editing
    • Channel received (Twitter, FB, web form, etc)
  • Posted to Layer 2
  • Posted to Layer 1
  • Deleted Reports

Examples:

1) When a user “views” Layer 2 reports, for example, he will then be able to sort by sub-categories such as: 

  • Queued for verification
  • In the process of verification
  • Verified
  • Impossible to verify

2) When a verifier has the list of Layer 2 reports open and selects a report to review, he will see all data and information entered by the reporter in the submission template that has been edited during the initial review by the moderator, as well as name and any contact information of the person reporting.

Note:  contact names and information are not mandatory for people submitting reports and will not be shown on the public dashboard. People submitting reports will have the option of making identifying information public or private.

This entire process is being refined as we speak, and the team in Ukraine is working hard to make it more efficient and tailored to the situation on the ground.

 

Sources:

Andrew Wilson, “Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' of 2004: The Paradoxes of Negotiation”, in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 295-316.
Paul Quinn-Judge, Yuri Zarakhovich, The Orange RevolutionTime, 28 November 2004
Goldstein, Joshua. (2007) The Role of Digital Networked Technologies in the Ukrainian Orange Revolution. Berkman Center Research Publication. Pg 14
Kalil, Thomas. (2008) Harnessing the Mobile Revolution. The New Policy Institute. Pg 14