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Social media helps curb Nigerian election deathtoll, paving future path

Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji | April 30, 2015
The dozens of deaths that marred the recent Nigerian elections would be considered shocking by the standards of most developed nations. Compared to past elections, however, the violence this time around was limited, and many observers say social media and technology such as biometric card readers played a big role in minimizing conflict.

Nigeria itself may continue to develop technology to promote peaceful elections. The Nigerian Society of Engineers, for example, has called for the deployment of electronic voting systems using software developed locally by NigComSat, the country's satellite communications agency.

Electronic voting systems, however, are not a panacea, Georgia Tech's Best noted.

"Electronic voting systems can be beneficial if correctly designed and deployed but too often they are actually detrimental due to lack of smart engineering and weak deployments," Best said. "Across many parts of the United States, for instance, badly designed e-voting machines have actually reduced the transparency and accountability of that nation's elections," Best noted. Critics of voting machines in the U.S. blasted the lack voter-verified paper audit trail in various electronic systems.

Technology can not be expected to resolve all election-related problems, for any country. Nigeria's experience over the last few months, though, shows that social media and other technology can help light the way toward a more peaceful, democratic future for developing nations.


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