According to this Texts monitor Nigerian elections article on the BBC News website,
Anyone trying to rig or tamper with Saturday’s presidential elections in Nigeria could be caught out by a team of volunteers armed with mobile phones.
The number to text to is 0808-4032739. Note that number and tell everyone you know! According to the Network of Mobile Election Monitors (NMEM) website, here is how it works:
The success of our endeavor rest solely on the effectiveness of our volunteers. To participate is simple. First of you have to register as a volunteer, simply text the following information to 0808-403-2739. We will send a reply sms indicating we have signed you up as volunteer.
As a volunteer, you are expected to go out on Election Day and vote. This is the only way you can participate and report correctly on the election.
Volunteers are required to send in two reports on the conduct of the polls in their location.
The first report should be sent in before 12noon and should cover the following aspects of the polls.
- Poll opening times
- Voter accreditation
- Ballot box / materials delivery times
2nd report at the close poll should be sent in before 6pm
- Vote counting / result
- Turn out at polling station
- General conduct of election
- Exit polls
And some more details from the BBC article:
The Network of Mobile Election Monitors (NMEM) will use SMS to feedback their observations to a central computer hub.
The collected text messages will then be passed on to other monitoring groups and authorities including the EU.
NMEM hopes the system will stop fraud, especially in areas considered too dangerous for other groups to enter.
“We want to set a precedent,” said Emauwa Nelson of the Human Emancipation Lead Project, a Nigerian NGO that helped set up the project.
“We want people to know that if they are trying to rig the election, there could be someone behind them and that person may send a text message saying what happened.”
… and don’t forget about blogging the election!
Then, if you are able to get to a computer with a microphone, please share your voice so the world can hear about what you are seeing and experiencing. Record a voice message to be posted directly on the greenlightnigeria.org election blog website. Or, if you prefer, send in your submissions via the greenlightnigeria.org contact form.
This is terrific news and I am very pleased to see that election monitors are making use of Ken Banks’s Frontline SMS tool to make this possible. These examples of SMS use for defending democracy are extremely important and can be applied everywhere in Africa.
Congratulations, Ken and NMEM, and may you succeed in helping to keep Nigeria from erupting tomorrow. All eyes are on you.
(If you can, please share your observations about your experience using this technology in a comment to this post – I’m very interested to hear about it.)