Social Media and Crowdsourced Election Monitoring

Prospects for Election Transparency in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Francisca Sassetti London School of Economics and Political Science
Keywords: Crowdsourcing, Democracy: Election Monitoring, Election Transparency, Social Media, Sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

With the rise of social media in Sub-Saharan Africa, citizen-led organizations in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana have embraced crowdsourcing for domestic election monitoring, at a time when holding competitive elections has proven insufficient to ensure democratic elections. Yet, while existing literature focuses on the contrast between crowdsourcing and traditional monitoring, the effects of crowdsourced election monitoring on the transparency and quality of elections remain unaddressed. This paper makes a comparative analysis of elections in Nigeria from 2003-2015, framed within Sub-Saharan Africa, supported by a dataset of election monitoring deployments. Findings show that, in Nigerian elections where crowdsourcing was used, higher levels of election transparency were registered based on the introduction of the concept of participatory democracy and its practical application. This would, then, contribute to more peaceful and democratic elections. This research also sheds some light on the benefits of domestic election monitoring for citizen engagement.

Author Biography

Francisca Sassetti, London School of Economics and Political Science

Francisca Machado Nunes Sassetti, 24, from Lisbon (Portugal), is a master student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), specializing in democratization in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2015, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the Institute of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Lisbon, from which she won the award for Best Undergraduate Student. She is currently a visiting research assistant at the United Nations University Computing Society (UNUCS), working on a project on how technology can be used to identify victims of forced labour and human trafficking. Her interests include democracy and democratization, information communication technologies for development, elections, African politics, human rights, and public opinion. 

Published
2019-09-16
How to Cite
Sassetti, F. (2019). Social Media and Crowdsourced Election Monitoring: Prospects for Election Transparency in Sub-Saharan Africa. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science, 42, 7-39. https://doi.org/10.22151/politikon.42.1
Section
Articles