Election Observation in Lebanon - Mobilized, Part 1

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jun 05, 2009

Lebanon will hold a critically important parliamentary election on June 7, and election observers from around the world have descended on the country.  However, as in many other countries now, there are local organizations and citizen efforts on the ground that are using mobile technology for sophisticated election observation efforts.  The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) and the Coalition Libanaise pour l’Observation Elections (CLOE), for example, have put in place an extensive SMS reporting system, for example. LADE will deploy a total of 2,500 volunteer citizen observers throughout the country directly at the 5181 polling stations. 

On Sunday's election, all 128 seats in Lebanon's National Assembly (Majlis al-Nuwab), the country's parliament, will be contested. These seats are allocated among twenty-six electoral districts.  Nearly 600 candidates are vying for these seats. Complicating the election is the mandate for each district to have a fixed number of representatives from Lebanon's eighteen different religious groups. The main issue for this election, and a point of enormous interest to governments around the world, will be whether the Hezbollah-led "March 8" coalition will defeat the Western-backed "March 14" coalition. Analysts expect a close vote.

LADE is using SMS reporting for the first time in Lebanon but rapid systematic text message reporting with observers at polling stations is a system of election observation that has been deployed around the world, most recently in Ghana.  SMS reporting of incidences throughout the day, and election results after the close of the polling stations, facilitates rapid transmission of information from the observers to a central database.  Reports of incidences can be immediately reported to relevant authorities and the media. Critical incidences during the day, according to LADE, are also be displayed on a map on LADE's website (which, unfortunately, is only available in Arabic). LADE and CLOE said in a press release, that they "hope to be able to raise public awareness, so each “citizen becomes an observer” to support the transparency and the democracy of the electoral process."
LADE also maintains a hotline to report violation at 71-121408, and has advertised this number extensively through public service announcements on local media. The PSAs are also available on YouTube.  

There have already been reports of numerous violations and irregularities in the pre-election period.  LADE's recent report noted illegal campaigning practices and vote buying, for example.  

Coming up:  Part II: Sharek961.org, citizen reporting during Lebanon's election. 

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br> <b><i><blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options