Yemenis to participate in SMS election monitoring

Published on 16 February 2012 in News
Anas Rawi (author)

Anas Rawi


SANA’A, Feb. 12 – For the first time, ordinary Yemenis will be able to monitor the country’s elections as they go to the polls on February 21.

Many people – including the youth whose determination led to the downfall of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year reign – feel they have been excluded from the political process. Being unable to run for presidency or even choose from more than one candidate, large numbers of Yemenis do not feel their vote will make a difference.

Now the Resonate! Yemen foundation has come up with a project it believes will bring hope back to the people by involving them in Yemen’s political transition. 

The project, called “Ersod” in Arabic or “Watch” in English, allows people to monitor the elections, reporting any violations or suspicious activities by sending an SMS message to 3377. Resonate! hopes the project will instill more confidence in Yemenis about the election process.

Each text message then goes to a committee that will investigate any alleged violations, such as the use of state-owned cars to transport voters, threatening and intimidating voters, or failing to check ID cards.

Reports can also be submitted online through the website, or using the #ersod hashtag on Twitter.

All reports will be uploaded to an interactive map that will be on the project website, where people will be able to track the election.

The Supreme Committee for Election and Referendum (SCER) has also said it will monitor the map, with the Youth Political Inclusion Center (YPIC) at Resonate!

The project also includes training for a group of youths who will monitor the election in the capital Sana’a. 250 supervisors have already been trained by Ersod to operate in Sana’a, while 1,000 more will operate in other parts of the country.

In addition to the Ersod project designed for the February 21 elections, the Public Committee to Monitor Yemeni Elections is running a pilot project to prepare Yemenis to use new SMS to monitor the elections that will be held at the end of the two-year transitional period, according to Suhail Al-Junaid, officer of the YPIC at Resonate!

“The Ersod project will make people more confident as they themselves will monitor the elections,” said Al-Junaid.

The foundation will distribute more than 20,000 posters in six governorates informing people about the project and publicizing the SMS code as well as running TV and newspaper ads.

 The Ersod project is being run in partnership with the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme electoral support in Yemen, with an approximate cost of $20,000 USD, explained Al-Junaid.

The Resonate! Yemen foundation is a youth initiative designed to merge the voices and ideas of young Yemenis with their country’s public policy.

It also works on providing opportunities for young Yemenis to build their political leadership skills, encouraging Yemen’s policy makers to accept the youth as major stakeholders in the country’s decision making process.