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Text Messages Used To Monitor Elections 42

Posted by Zonk
from the getting-the-word-out dept.
InternetVoting writes "The upcoming historic Nigerian elections are going to be defended by an army of observers armed, not with guns, but with text messages. Every one of the observers will be outfitted with a cell phone to report vote tampering. The volunteers are a part of the Network of Mobile Election Monitors, and they use freeware to do what they do. From the article: 'NMEM is using a free system called Frontline SMS, developed by programmer Ken Banks, to keep track of all of the texts. Originally developed for conservationists to keep in touch with communities in National Parks in South Africa, the system allows mass-messaging to mobile phones and crucially the ability to reply to a central computer. It has already been used in countries such as Zimbabwe as a way of bypassing broadcast restrictions and distributing information to rural communities.'"
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Text Messages Used To Monitor Elections

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  • SQL (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'll put this in terms most Slashdotters will understand:

    select quote_text from quote where author like 'benjamin%' and quote_text like '%vigil%';
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @03:18AM (#18821849)
    This is the number to call if you'd like to report a fraud during the Nigerian election : 1-888-GO-419

    You'll soon get called back by voting official Dr. Adewale Johnson, who incidentally also has a lot of money locked up in a bank account and needs your help.
  • by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @03:32AM (#18821909) Homepage
    In fact I just got this on my inbox:

    DEAR,

    HAVING CONSULTED WITH MY COLLEAGUES AND BASED ON THE INFORMATION GATHERED FROM THE NIGERIAN ELECTORAL COMISSION, I HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE TO MONITOR THE ELECTION. IN RETURNS, WE SHALL TRANSFER THE SUM OF $47,500,000.00 (FORTY SEVEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS) INTO YOUR ACCOUNTS. THE ABOVE SUM RESULTED FROM AN OVER-INVOICED CONTRACT, EXECUTED COMMISSIONED AND PAID FOR ABOUT FIVE YEARS (5) AGO BY A FOREIGN TEXTING CONTRACTOR. THIS ACTION WAS HOWEVER INTENTIONAL AND SINCE THEN THE FUND HAS BEEN IN A SUSPENSE ACCOUNT AT THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA APEX BANK.

    PLEASE REPLY URGENTLY IN GOD.

    BEST REGARDS
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @03:58AM (#18821973) Homepage Journal
    Its too simple. You guys don't know what you are talking about. Doing it all with one computer and an SMS modem? You can't future proof it that way. I want to see some mention of CORBA and SOAP. How can you have a system without middleware? I keep searching for contractors using your keywords and nobody is coming up.

    Can you use dot NET? Everybody uses that these days. And what if I want to use it when I am already on the phone. Can't it have a WAP interface as well? Listen, I don't give a shit that the thing works. I want to sell a thousand copies of this thing and nobody is going to pay a million bucks for something which doesn't use a single cutting edge technology.

    And don't get me started on your engineering practices. Last month this POS stopped working and you attached it to a different power circuit and a came right up. You can't make any money off maintenance that way. You need to network at least three computers with 12 daemons which have to start in a specific order, and have it crash from running out of memory at least once a week. Fault calls are where the real money is made. Lets see some forward thinking thanks.
  • Say WHAT?! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Fizzl (209397)
    Cell phones used for communication! How terribly clever! What will they come up with next?!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The way you eliminate election fraud is with a simple method from the "R" in RSA: 3ballot.

    http://rangevoting.org/Rivest3B.html [rangevoting.org]
  • Makes me wonder when election campaigns start to apply the actual science to elections. There are fairly robust natural language processing techniques available for what is called "sentiment classification". You define a set of topics and a machine can analyze, say, local newspapers and blogs to gauge with fairly high precision whether the candidate is getting praised or lambasted on certain issues, and how strongly. Since most of the stuff is on the web, analysis could be done in near-real time. This coul
  • Not that it will do any good. Observers != enforcers.
    • by Reidsb (944156)
      Yes, but then the results from that area can be kept off the final tally until a fair re-vote is held there. The problems will arise if they have volunteers who can be bribed.
      • by Rinkhals (930763)
        No.

        That's not how it works in Africa

        The election monitors are there to endorse the winning candidate.

        Some rural areas in Zimbabwe's last election had a 110% voter turnout.

        If I tell you that the voters must oftentimes cover 10-20 miles on foot in order to vote, you'll see how preposterous that figure really is.

        The bulk of the election monitors endorsed the election as "Free and Fair".
    • by Gription (1006467)

      Not that it will do any good. Observers != enforcers.
      I know when I am working as an "enforcer" I usually use a cell phone as my weapon of choice!

      Now that I think about it, why didn't Doom have a cell phone as a weapon?
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Not that it will do any good. Observers != enforcers.


      Silent observer = WOMBAT [note] = NULL
      Vocal observer = CORPSE.

      [note] Waste Of Money, Brains And Time
  • I'm about to vote in an hour. How do I become a volunteer? Are the text messages supposed to be in a specific format?
    • UPDATE: Attempting to send a message gives the error "Check operator services". I guess the government is more powerful than I thought.
      • by GnuDiff (705847)
        Alternatively, it could just mean that the service is flooded with messages.

        Happened first couple of times we used SMS-based voting for TV shows here in my country.
        Also happens occasionally on New Year's eve etc.

        SMS service generally has capacity that presumes only a fraction of users will be sending an SMS at any particular moment.
      • Hmm... How many Nigerian Slashdotters are there?
  • Excellent! (Score:3, Funny)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @05:30AM (#18822249) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully, this technology can take Nigeria a step closer to being as free, open, and peaceful as Zimbabwe.
    • by wganz (113345)
      an army of observers armed, not with guns, but with text messages.

      If they only have cell phones and no way to physically back it up, they're just a self important cluster phuque with cell phones. Once they are done with their self congratulatory phase, they will go back to their nice safe homes and leave Africa to return to the state of barbarity into which it has settled. It is best described by the quote from the movie 'Hotel Rwanda', "You're not even a nigger. You're an African."

      Sad to say, Everyday I s
  • With prices of $0.10 or more for each text coming and going yes you pay for incoming texts.
  • w?ow cellfones to monitor elections! what will they think of next? maybe jojo the boatman is gonna be oone of the monitors?
  • It's easy, natural and fun to look at this effort with cynicism, but it really does represent a great application of information sharing in the service of freedom.

    Cell phones are relatively cheap, ubiquitous and easy to use. If the procedures promoted in the articles really do make if more difficult to manipulate elections, they should be exported to my own country.

  • Can we hack the Nigerian election and get W elected President of Nigeria?

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