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Indonesian Techies Crowdsource Election Results

By Financial Times

July 23, 2014

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A trio of Indonesians working for international tech companies have used crowdsourcing to calculate a result for Indonesia's contested presidential election.

Indonesia does not use electronic voting machines; each of the more than 140 million paper ballots submitted during the election must be counted by hand. Both candidates in the election have claimed victory and accused the other of rigging the counting process, necessitating a painstaking manual recount of the vote. However, the country's national election commission, anticipating concerns about the validity of the vote, has posted the individual results of Indonesia's 480,000 polling stations on its website.

Ainun Najib and his two friends took this vote data, created an easy-to-use interface, and recruited about 700 friends and acquaintances through Facebook to manually type in and check the results. Najib says he had to fend off hacking attacks and move the data to protect it during the process, but the group was quickly able to conclude that Joko Widodo, a reformist governor, had beaten rival strongman Prabowo Subianto 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent, which tracks with initial results that projected Widodo as the winner.

Philips Vermonte, a political analyst at Indonesia's Centre for Strategic and International Studies, called the crowdsourcing effort a promising first for citizen monitoring of elections.

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