High-class IT system brings transparency and credibility in Moldovan elections
21 Dec 2016 by Diana Zaharia
9 o’clock in the evening of the Election Day in Moldova, polling stations are closing. However, the hardest work only starts. Members of the electoral bureaus begin counting the ballot papers. Citizens impatiently wait for the next morning to find out the preliminary results. This was the reality until recently, 2014.
Now, a high-class IT system allows Moldovan Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to gather electronically, in real-time all the voting results and the reports from the electoral bureaus and announce the preliminary results of elections in maximum 3 hours.
The State Automated Information System “Elections”, better known as SAISE, was developed with the support of the UNDP Democracy Programme funded by the Governments of Sweden and Norway. The IT system is unique in the region and is identified by the neighboring countries as an outstanding example for raising high quality and transparency in electoral management.
Besides presenting on-line preliminary results, SAISE benefits from other important advantages:
- excludes the possibility of double voting;
- eliminates the duplications in the electoral lists;
- decreases the number of voters on the supplementary lists;
- displays constantly and in real-time the voter turnout in and out of the country;
- reduces human errors to minimum.
For the first time, SAISE was used by the Moldovan CEC during the Parliamentary Elections in November 2014. Unfortunately, due to a tremendous system overload, it crashed in the first 2 hours after the launch. Nevertheless, this experience did not put an end to the story. On the contrary, both CEC and the supporting development partners identified concrete steps to follow and turn this apparent failure into a success:
- a completely new architecture of the system was designed and implemented;
- load and stress tests were performed;
- some SAISE applications were re-designed while new ones were developed.
At the General Local Elections in 2015, the system performed impeccably. At the recent Presidential Elections in 2016 the expectations were exceeded: for the first time ever, data about voter turnout was available in real time, for both citizens voting in the country and abroad. Preliminary results were made available in a very detailed form: voters’ profile (gender, age, % of turnout in each locality), candidates’ profile (gender, age, total % of votes in their favour, % of votes per each locality). This statistics was massively broadcasted by the majority of the TV channels on the E-Day. The data is also highly appreciated by the surveying and analysis institutions and is being used for further research.
“We noticed an electronic system for managing elections that performed very well, with no incidents, both in the capital of the country and in other urban and rural areas”, mentioned Siegfried Muresan, member of the European Parliament.
“I would like to specifically refer to the good performance of the State Automated Information System “Elections”. This is a huge achievement in the Moldova’s electoral system. It is very important to get the results of elections rapidly. The voting results are sent directly to CEC excluding any other means of transmission”, noted Alexander Kinev, member of the Observation Mission of the CIS Parliamentary Assembly.
We, at UNDP Moldova are proud to contribute to the positioning the CEC of the Republic of Moldova amongst the front line international examples in developing and using modern IT tools for administrating elections.
Now regional neighbours are interested to learn from Moldovan experience, as this is one of the few similar IT systems operating at international level.
Below are a just a very few primary steps to consider before engaging in such a project in your country:
- Conduct a feasibility study. You will learn about realistic solutions and recommendations from where to start your journey in IT elections.
- Identify state registries that provide accurate and official data about the citizens included in your electoral lists.
- Develop a roadmap and encourage the Central Electoral Commission to lead the process and cooperate with other data processing state institutions (Ministry of Information Technology, Civil Status Service, Addressing Authority, Ministry of Justice etc.) in your country.
- Allocate time for testing and piloting the new system.
Do you want to know more about Moldovan SAISE? We would love to hear from you. Write to us.