Next it’s Kenya’s turn, and March 4th 2013 will be a pivotal moment as Kenyan voters go to the polls to decide the country’s future. This will be Kenya’s first general election under the new constitution and following the post-election violence of 2007/8. Expectations are high both for a peaceful transition and a deepening of democracy under the new constitution. Voters are already turning to the internet for information: according to Google Zeitgeist, the IEBC (Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission) was the top trending search in Kenya in 2012, and all the major candidates have a strong presence across the various social media outlets.
We want to help empower Kenyans with accessible and useful information during the upcoming elections so we’re launching a number of initiatives to make it easy for voters to find information and make their voices heard. We have partnered with the IEBC to provide open source technology powering their online voter tools, including registration confirmation online and over SMS, mapping the polling stations, and a developer API. With so many constitutional changes including new boundaries, new elective seats, and a new voter registration, it is more important than ever to help keep Kenyans informed about the elective process. In addition to helping drive citizen engagement, we have trained local journalists, civil society and political parties on digital tools for elections, and partnered with local media organizations to support the use of Google+ Hangouts for interviews with candidates.
And today we are launching the Kenya Elections Hub,a portal where voters, journalists and campaigns can track news, trends information related to the elections easily.
The Kenyan election will be closely followed both locally and globally in 2013 and as we head to voting day we will continue to work to keep Kenyans more informed about this critical process.
Posted: 10 Jan 2013 04:23 AM PST by Ory Okolloh, Google Policy and Government Relations Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa.