6 December 2012

Ghana: African Elections Project Covers Ghana Elections 2012 Using New Media

On December 7, 2012 Ghana will take another giant step in its democracy as Ghanaians go to the polls to choose for the sixth time, a president who will rule the country for the next four years.

African Elections Project (AEP) with its long standing experience in covering elections will be covering the elections under its "enabling peaceful, credible and transparent elections using new media" project.

The project which is being funded by STAR-Ghana seeks to improve information and knowledge exchange on elections among the media and civil society using ICTs while at the same time connecting the media, citizens and civil society concerns to security agencies. This would lead to exchange of election related messages and information to prevent and control election violence and irregularities. This is possible through the project's ICT based early warning feedback hub made up of SMS, social media, media monitoring, web 2.0 and email.

The early warning system dubbed "Ghvotes2012" (ghvotes2012.com) would allow citizens to contribute towards the electoral process by reporting incidents of violence, irregularities and human rights abuses via web forms and SMS applications spanning the period of pre-elections, during elections and post elections, thereby strengthening Ghana's burgeoning democracy.

The project has also established a state-of-the-art Social Media Tracking Center and deployed the "aggie" software which will monitor the use of social media during Ghana's 2012 elections. The SMTC will provide a real time response mechanism on election irregularities, violence and other concerns which will feed into the Ghana elections early warning system for key election stakeholders to take immediate action.

Apart from all these tool deployed, citizens are now empowered to actively participant in the electoral process by simply sending reports free of charge to the SMS short code 7000 on MTN and 1902 on other networks by prefixing their message with 'AEP'. Verified reports will be plotted on the elections instance map.

Recognizing the impact and ownership of mobile phones in the country, a mobile app christened 'Jangbeeshi' (delivering results in style) mobile app which will not only provide citizens with information about where, when and how to vote but also get citizens report to on irregularities at their voting centers during the elections just at the tap of a button has also been developed.

Other tools include the social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, online info and knowledge platform (www.africanelections.org/ghana), Google plus, Flickr and Twitpic for pictures and Youtube for videos.

This year's keenly contested elections will see over 4 million registered Ghanaian voters queuing to vote in 26,002 polling stations across the country to elect a leader out of the eight contesting presidential candidates from seven political parties and an independent candidate.

The Electoral Commission (EC) from March 24 to May 5 carried out for the first time, a biometric system of registration for citizens above age 18. Although the process was generally successful it was not without incidents such as detected multiple registration, faulty registration machines, registration of minors and violence in some parts of the country.

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