Cameras to reduce electoral fraud?

Posted on October 23, 2011  /  0 Comments

People have been sending me pictures, not of Qaddafi dead, but of people taking pictures of the dead Qaddafi. I was among those who speculated on the role of cameras in moderating the crackdown in Bahrain (before the real crackdown): “Could the ubiquity of cameras be the differentiating factor? Cameras are everywhere in Tripoli and Manama; images keep coming out, despite confiscations of cameras, SIMs, and whatever picture-snapping gadgets there are. Prabhakaran’s captives had no cameras.”

Now here is a report on the use of low-end digital cameras (not very different from mid-range mobile phones) in constraining electoral fraud. They had used Randomized Trials.

A study just released by Michael Callen and James Long, a pair of ambitious doctoral students at the University of California-San Diego, exemplifies these efforts. The two researchers evaluated whether low-end digital cameras could be a cheap and easy technological fix for election fraud in Afghanistan’s 2010 parliamentary elections. Their results are promising. At polling stations where locally reported vote counts were digitally photographed, reports of electoral fraud were as much as 60 percent lower, and the vote counts of politically connected candidates—the ones most likely to have rigged elections—were reduced by about one-quarter.

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