Thursday, November 4, 2010

Have Your Say on The Speed of Election Results.

Totally missed the live broadcast, but The Beeb's Have Your Say program talked about how long it takes for election results to come out in our neck of the woods today. While fiddly election behaviors are obviously not unique to Africa, some of our governments have developed a number of techniques to scuttle democracy that vary in their sophistication.

My beef is that highly visible international press tends to seriously water down issues and has a predilection for violence. Really interesting political developments that aren't centered around elections or riot footage from an African country? Meh. I tried to pitch a story idea in 2008 to a journalist friend who does pieces for a very well respected international paper. The one about the events that led to the historic, beautifully furious Lowassa resignation and the implications for Tanzania's future. It lost out, naturally, because the very well respected international paper wanted something a bit "grittier." Y'all know that means.

Of course we should be aiming for as fast a turn-around on election results as possible, isn't that just common sense? Maybe after these elections we are heading there. It's not like in 2005 we could have predicted how intense this year's elections were going to be, or that we'd have social media tools and a surprisingly styled-up media to help us break The Establishment's sweaty grip on information. None of this is proof against the excruciatingly. slow. pace. at which NEC has been reading out election results.

Anywho, looks like there is still time to have your say in the program's comments section. After you've read the moderation policy (I found it by clicking on explain next to comments that are awaiting moderation). Speaking up not only gets the truth out, it helps to protect against these kinds of nutjobs.


  1. US midterm elections were on Tuesday and we got the results before TZ elections which started 2 days earlier ;-)

    I just hope the delays don't unduly exacerbate political tensions...

  2. NEC has a results database that (from a very brief look) appears to be well designed, which should mean quick results. (Though the database appeared to be all in English.)

    There isn't any actual counting done at the NEC counting centres for each constituency, it's all done at polling stations themselves. It's then added up at ward level, with the figures then forwarded up. At Jimbo level, NEC only have to enter numbers from say 15 forms (1 per ward) into a database, which shouldn't take more than half an hour once all the forms are in. Even if they enter figures from every polling station, that's still only around 500 forms to enter. With 2-3 people working on it, three or four hours should be plenty. Once the data has been entered, the database does the rest.

    So it should be possible, under the current system, to have all the results announced within 24 hours of closing the polls. Speeding things up shouldn't require any complicated new technologies, just an increased sense of urgency.

    Having said that, there's certainly room for better use of the internet and perhaps even of mobile phones for data entry?

  3. @ Dr. Bob: too late for that now. We're going to have to see how this renegotiation of the contract between citizens and The Establishment is going to play out.

    @Ben: thanks for that illuminating answer. Haven't had time to research the process.


No biting, spitting, trolling or ugly insults- only pretty ones allowed.

A little birdie told me...

Follow MikocheniReport on Twitter