- Title: Kenyan software to track U.S. voting.
- Date: 8th November 2016
- Summary: NAIROBI, KENYA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS WORKING AT INNOVATION HUB
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2016 16:14
- Keywords: Elections Monitoring Ushahidi Crowdsourcing US Donald Trump Hilary Clinton
- Location: NAIROBI, KENYA/ NEW YORK AND OHIO, UNITED STATES
- City: NAIROBI, KENYA/ NEW YORK AND OHIO, UNITED STATES
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00557L3B6F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Software that has tracked post election violence in Kenya, earthquake aid in Haiti, elections in India and sexual assaults in Egypt is tackling a new challenge: any reports of violence, intimidation or fraud in the U.S. vote.
Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Kenya's Swahili language, is collecting data from the 50 states where Republican candidate, Donald Trump and Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton are running.
Ushahidi Chief Executive Officer Daudi Were told Reuters his organisation's 50-strong team was not expecting violence but wanted to ensure voter concerns were heard.
"There is a lot of data available, people are very concerned about the process this time, you know lots of questions about what election day itself would look like. Like most of us, we hope and pray that it will be a peaceful day and things will go smoothly, like they largely did in Kenya in 2013 and we're not in any way anticipating violence but we want to have data on the day to be able to say… this what we saw and this is what we learnt," he said.
Trump has repeatedly warned that the U.S. poll could be "rigged", a charge dismissed by his opponents.
"This election in particular seems like it will be a lot tighter than the normal. We've seen some of the big pollsters in the US having public fights on twitter because they disagree with how everyone else is collecting data. We've also seen one of the key candidates say they may not accept the election results, which all speaks to the need of having citizens have confidence in the process, you know? When you look at all the non partisan sites and they say this is the most open U.S elections, it's free, it's fair, but the perception that citizens have especially around the issue that it may not be free and fair is why we believe in including them in the process makes a more stable election day," Were said.
People can send reports by phone, email, or Twitter, he added. A team uses local contacts or reputable online sources to sort and verify reports. They can pass reports to the Election Protection Committee, a U.S. nonpartisan monitoring organisation that sends legal experts to areas of dispute.
"We're leading the way in crowd sourcing. This idea that you can collect information from a large group of people and one individual voice can have a disproportionately positive influence on the outcome of an election or any other citizen, government engagement or can help save lives in disaster humanitarian responses where Ushahidi is also used extensively, or you can get people on the grassroots to participate in anti corruption initiatives. So, if you're building a good tool, then it will be used across the world, no matter where the origin is," said Were.
Ushahidi was set up by four friends scrambling to respond to post-election violence in Kenya at the start of 2008 in which 1,200 people were killed. It helped map violent hotspots.
Since then, it has been used in more than 160 countries for such tasks as monitoring polls or responding to humanitarian crises by reuniting families, tracking aid and pinpointing violence.
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