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$99,992 | Afghanistan | Stage 1
THE OPPORTUNITY: Of the 182 countries ranked on Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, Afghanistan is ranked 180th—placing it ahead of only North Korea and Somalia. Systemic corruption in government institutions profoundly undermines any development effort in the areas under rule. All development goals drive an imperative to find ways of making corruption more difficult and more expensive – and Afghanistan is one of the hardest environments in which to institute change.
THE PROJECT: A team from the University of California, San Diego received less than $100,000 to measure the effectiveness of an election monitoring approach in Afghanistan. The randomized control trial evaluated how candidates’ and election officials’ behavior would react to the knowledge that their vote counts would be photographed. Following the evidence of the approach's success in Afghanistan, UCSD was able to secure separate funding from Qualcomm to successfully replicate the approach during Uganda's February 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections and Qualcomm plans to expand the approach to some upcoming high-profile elections.
THE RESULTS: The UCSD researchers found a 60% reduction in the theft of election materials and a 25% drop in votes for the most well-connected candidates when polling stations were warned that vote tallies would be monitored with photographs. The result found an efficient means to increase the difficulty and expense of one type of election fraud, compared to the cost of election monitors, and the difficulty of placing an international observer at every polling station. As cellphones become cheaper, the ability of locals to crowd source election monitoring will grow.
Last updated: February 19, 2013