Ahead of Venezuela’s pivotal parliamentary elections on Dec. 6, journalists and civil groups are deploying digital tools developed in Africa to keep tabs on cheating.
Guachimán Electoral, or election watchman (link in Spanish,) is a crowdsourcing platform that is already collecting and mapping citizen complaints. Witnesses to irregularities—from the use of government funds to promote candidates to election-related violence—can report them on the Guachimán’s website, or via text message, Twitter or WhatsApp.
The project, which was created by non-profit Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Spanish) and several online news outlets, uses technology developed by coders in Kenya to monitor violence after the 2007 elections in that country. Called Ushahidi, which means testimony in Kiswahili, the tool helped record some 1,300 deaths at that time.
Venezuela hasn’t experienced anywhere near that level of election-related unrest in recent memory, and its voting system is considered fair, with Jimmy Carter even calling it the best in the world (minute 44:30) in 2012. Still, many Venezuelans are nervous about the potential for trouble because Sunday elections are the opposition’s first real chance to gain control of the national assembly since former president Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998.