How can we communicate voters’ education to youth through Technology?

Technology offers a great range of advantages when it comes to communicating to youth. Social media Social media platforms are playing larger roles in the dissemination of information about electoral processes especially for young people who are increasingly active online. By using social media platforms the National Electoral Commision, and CSOs can use youthful content  can successfully connect with youth who are less likely to be reached through traditional voter education programmes, directly access an existing audience of followers, who can then share the information they provide within their own respective networks in an ongoing and ever-expanding process. 

Social Media

Social media is youth trend on average youth spend at least 8 hours on social media platforms. Applications like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are not just a place youth connect, but it’s also a place where they do business, get news and even romantic relationships. But social media being very informal how can it benefit communication during the 2020 general elections?

Social media can increase transparency and accessibility. 

Social media can enhance the ability of running candidates, NEC and CSO to disseminate impartial, accurate and timely information and respond promptly to queries and requests through both formal and more informal platforms. In addition, exchanges held in their social media platforms, either between them and their followers or among their followers are visible to a wide audience and contribute to increased accessibility to information and transparency around the electoral process. 

The Generation of user generated content and live interaction.

By using social media platforms running candidates can achieve two-way interactions through user-generated content and communication, thereby allowing them to not only share information with their audience, but also to gather real-time information. Everyone can ask questions at the sametime and without feeling self conscious. Sometimes the audience themselves can educate themselves and share their views among themselves.

Social media is cost effective.

It is very easy to  optimize costs and share as much content as is needed using social media platforms, especially where there is an ongoing process that requires frequent updates. The funds saved by using social media can be used in other activities on the ground campaign instead of paying for advertising on traditional media like radio and television. The promotion options can the communication to at least 3000 people in a day using only 10 dollars. 

Election monitoring

NEC could consider establishing online platforms for elections monitoring and providing trainings for youth and CSOs to use new tools in ways that can contribute to the prevention of conflicts and enable real-time exchanges of information on all parts of electoral processes. This can be a creative for “crowd sourcing” ensuring that there is a cost-effective way for mass data collection.

“Yet although their rising prominence is usually a positive development, social media platforms are also used in negative and destructive ways — e.g., to misinform the public with selective and incomplete coverage, spread rumours and false information, and call for violent protest.”

NEC however should be prepared to swiftly counter false information and take necessary actions against those who are behaving irresponsibly by misleading citizens throughout an electoral process. Fortunately we have the 2015 “Cyber Crimes Act”, the 2015 “Statistics Act” that especially addresses the issues of misinformation.

Text messaging

Another way to utilize technology is through the use of short message services (SMS).Text messaging was used in research conducted after the November 2006 elections in the United States. The text messages were sent to mobile phones to mobilize young voters. The study found that text message reminders to new voters increased an individual’s likelihood of voting by 4.2% points. 

Application Softwares.

Application software (apps for short) is a program or group of programs designed for end users  to perform a specific purpose. Examples include  “Microsoft word”, “Adobe reader” and “WhatsApp” . Special applications can be designed to simply data collection during the electoral processes.

Nigeria 2011, established a Social Media Tracking centre prior elections, ran by volunteers. By working with volunteers, the Centre used specially designed software that provide an interface for scanning reports, a map-based incident reporting mechanism for some areas of the country as well as an automatic classification of reports based on content and election-related locations. For example, the software showed the rising number of incidents on the day following the presidential election and tracked references to two key words that trended highest that day.

Ushahidi (“testimony’ in Swahili) is an open source project that allows citizens to send data through their mobile phones or the internet. It was first introduced in the aftermath of the violent 2007 election in Kenya120 to allow citizens to report and map incidents of violence that they witnessed via text messages, email or the internet. It is being used for various types of crisis-related monitoring, in particular during elections. Today more than 30 countries have used this crowdsourcing technology in their electoral processes. This tool went on to be used during the 2012 presidential election in the United States and in the Mozambique 2014 elections.

The future of communication is technology, as Tanzania climbed the heights of technology in electoral processes like the use of ” Biometric voter registration” the main concern is how to maintain security and fundamental freedom as Electronic voting and registration is eventually inevitable.

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