Well-designed technology improves the accuracy, speed and integrity of elections. However, observation by experienced observers and thorough auditing are also necessary to give legitimacy to election results.
Management bodies (EMBs) should ensure that the administration tools used in election observation do in fact build the confidence of the stakeholders.
The voting cycle stages to be improved by monitoring and auditing are manifold. Qualified election observers provide not only evaluation reports but also expert advice and feedback. They offer resources and an assistance network, as well as integrity validation regarding EMBs best practices, election fairness and trustworthiness, management solutions, audits, and check and balances.
Improve data gathering and communication
Complete observation (local, international, private, and public) thus needs a precise look at the whole pre-election period and post-election changes, as well as what emerges on Election Day. Technology can assist in multiple ways, some of which are:
- Gathering information, mapping and understanding the political, social and legal context of elections before deployment of observation missions à Digital search, databases, technical platforms in the field, and agencies’ apps.
- Be a resourceful tool to interconnect, inform, and socially integrate observers with other election stakeholders, and among themselves à Customized election management systems for observers, EMBs digital platforms, and social networks.
- Improve professionalism, ease of use, and standardization of management systems and evaluation methods à solutions developed especially for observation missions can facilitate the election data collection and comparison; adding security, speed, robustness and transparency trough modular devices and software.
Advance global cooperation
International election observation missions come from different surroundings; and while they usually have significant experience, skills and technological competence, they are not authorities in the monitored country. These global experts can be particularly useful when local observation groups do not have enough resources, power, reliability or even technology to establish effective supervising forces.
Nevertheless, global agencies supporting election monitoring face other challenges such as wariness or pressure from in-the-field stakeholders or lacking comprehensive local information and context. In both cases, technology can be a vital ally to obtain and share reliable information, along with enhancing communication and reporting.
Reliable election observation needs autonomy and cooperation from EMBs and local stakeholders, which will involve negotiation, planned participation, and agreeing on operative responsibilities. Moreover, promoting first-rate IT skills and technical competence among election observers should be a crucial goal for EMBs, international agencies, and the voting industry.