A new website is planning to protect the votes of Mexicans in the elections of July 5 from “old enemies”: violence, false IDs, ballot rigging, damage to ballot boxes and other obstacles for transparent elections. “Cuidemos el voto [es]” [“Let’s protect the vote”] is a project following the “citizen journalism” spirit that will watch discrepancies during the elections through reports from text messages (SMS), Twitter and its own website.
“Cuidemos el voto” is built on Ushahidi, an open-source platform that allows citizens to send information in a quick and easy way through cellphones and Internet with the purpose of coverage during crisis: it collect reports, links, photos and video, and places them on a map where the information can be filtered. The “motor” has been used recently for media coverage: in early 2009, news network Al Jazeera used it for reports on the war on Gaza and later an independent project used it for surveillance on swine flu.
This is the first formal project of Ushahidi in Latin America. This project in Mexico was developed by an eclectic team with knowledge of telecommunications, urban planning and electronic media, with the help of the Center for Future Civic Media of the MIT. Leaders for this project include Óscar Salazar (from Colima, MX; Twitter) and Andrés Lajous (from Federal District, MX, Twitter, blog), with Jorge Soto (Monterrey, MX) and José Oviedo (Colima, blog). The team helped translate the Ushahidi platform into Spanish, making it easier for other Latin American teams to organize a similar effort.
“Cuidemos el voto” calls for Mexican citizens to report any irregularity they witness or they learn through media. Reports can be sent in several ways:
- Using an electronic form at the website of “Cuidemos el voto [es]”
- Sending an text message to SMS number 55-3269-0062 (in Mexico), including electoral section, city or town, and the type of irregularity to be reported
- Sending an e-mail with same information to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reporting an incident through Twitter using the tag #cuidemoselvoto
To know more about how to make a better report during Sunday elections, their article “How to report incidents? [es]” gives some basic tips on recognizing electoral crimes and how to quick-type them according to their four-letter code.