National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel)

BANTAY NG BAYAN

NAMFREL and ICT in Election and Governance Monitoring

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Since its inception, NAMFREL has always been an early adapter of information and communication technologies to empower its volunteers in carrying out their election and good governance monitoring tasks.

In 1984 for the Batasang Pambansa election, NAMFREL started using amateur and citizens band radio and fax machines to transmit election results. For the 1986 Snap election, fax machines were used extensively by NAMFREL throughout the country for the Operation Quick Count. Telex was also utilized during NAMFREL’s first decade, as well as short-wave, single-side band, and two-way radios, which the organization still used for the 2010 elections. It was also during this period that networked personal computers as well as automated spreadsheets were utilized to encode results coming from precinct election returns.

In the 1990s, with the rise of the internet, NAMFREL started using email to communicate with the different chapters. Towards the latter part of the decade, NAMFREL had partnered with service providers to ensure that all its chapters, where internet is supported, had email addresses and stable internet connection. There was also limited use of mobile cellular telephones and pagers. NAMFREL also launched its first website in the late ’90s, which contained materials that volunteers could use in mobilizing and in voter education. The NAMFREL newsletter was also born, which was sent via mail or email.

For the 2001 elections, NAMFREL made sure that its volunteers (at least the provincial chairpersons) had cellular phones. SIM cards and pre-paid cards were also distributed to all the chapters. For the 2004 elections, texting and online submissions were first utilized in the conduct of Operation Quick Count. NAMFREL also effectively used tri-media (print, radio, and television) in voter education and information dissemination.

In the past few years, with the rise of social media, NAMFREL started using Facebook and Twitter (and other services like YouTube, Google Maps, and Picasa) to distribute election-related news and information, and to have direct communication with volunteers and non-volunteers alike. The NAMFREL website was also re-launched, now containing not only news, but also archival materials for researchers and casual browsers. NAMFREL utilizes open source GIS & online mapping features to enhance user reporting & information access.

For the 2010 elections, volunteers and the public were able to sign-up as volunteers, and directly send to NAMFREL incident reports with media attachments, through the NAMFREL website. Cloud computing and crowd sourcing were also utilized to widen the coverage of its reporting and monitoring as well as uploading and storing electronic election results. The NAMFREL newsletter was also relaunched, now distributed only through the internet (email, website, and Scribd). NAMFREL also uses online communication tools like Skype and video conferencing in its operations.

In its good governance monitoring efforts, NAMFREL now also uses online tools like Google Docs and cloud services like Dropbox to enable volunteers to upload information, update documents, and collaborate in real time.

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Written by namfrel

June 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

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