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Citizen Monitoring in Nicaragua's Municipal Elections

Seventy-two hours before voters head to the polls in Nicaragua, the country is observing “electoral silence,” meaning that political parties cannot hold public gatherings until after the November 4 elections. On that date, approximately 3.3 million Nicaraguans will head to the polls to elect mayors, vice-mayors, and council members in the 153 municipalities across the country.

There have been some changes for these elections including a record number of candidates, more than 33,000, as a result of a change in the law that has increased the number of seats on municipal councils. Another change in the law has also provided more opportunities for women to participate in local government requiring that 50% of the parties' candidates must be women [es].

As has been more commonplace across the globe during an election cycle, citizens are eager to use digital technologies to play a role in monitoring and reporting the election. And in Nicaragua, a platform called “Plataforma de Observación Electoral Ciudadana Independiente” [es] (Independent Electoral Citizen Observation Platform”) is gearing up to encourage citizens to send reports via a web form, by SMS, or other social media sites, which will then be mapped using the Ushahidi platform. The team behind the project will utilize Frontline SMS to receive and process the citizen reports.

They describe the platform [es] as “a tool for democratic empowerment of Nicarguan society.” The project is organized by the citizen journalism site Huella Libre [es], in conjunction with La Brújula [es], which helped with spreading the word. The site was designed by Paulo McNally.

In addition to the direct reports to the site, they are encouraging netizens to use the hashtag #YoObservo [es] (I Observe) before and during the election day.

One of the organizers of the project, Orlando Rizo (@orlandorizo) [es], recently spoke about the plans for the platform:

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