Electoral processes in Moldova: simpler, faster and closer to voters

May 21, 2019

Participants at Innovoter 2018

Nowadays, a voter from the Republic of Moldova can find out everything about elections from his/her phone, tablet or computer.

Only 5 years ago, in Moldova, on the election day, citizens had to stick to TV-sets or radio to watch what was going on in the voting process. People were going to bed with the thought of waking up in the morning and seeing who won the elections.

In the last few years, the Central Electoral Commission and UNDP Moldova managed to develop such a performing informative system so that in no more than 3 hours after the closing of the polling stations, the preliminary results can be announced. And this is only due to the electronic, real-time, collection of all the voting results, as well as, of the statements of the precinct electoral bureaus.

The State Automated Information System “Elections”, known as SAISE, was developed by the CEC in 2014 with the support of UNDP and development partners, becoming a unique example in the region.

Since then, at each election, CEC and UNDP have come up with new useful tools for voters, but also for the smooth running of the electoral process. The 2019 Parliamentary elections have been a new opportunity to bring the information system to the next level.

Today, SAISE includes 9 modules, among which:

  • Pre-registration. It allows Moldovan citizens to register to vote at the next elections if they are outside the country at that time. At the Parliamentary Elections of February 24, 2019, almost 24,500 voters pre-registered. The tool has become very popular, if to compare with the number of those who registered for the Presidential elections from 2016 - 3,570 Moldovans from the diaspora.
  • The ballot paper. The system generates the form of the voting ballot, which includes electoral candidates (political parties or independent candidates) for the election day. The ballot papers correspond to the type of elections. At the Parliamentary elections from this year there have been created 4 types of ballots:
  1. Proportional Parliamentary elections
  2. Uninominal Parliamentary elections
  3. Consultative referendum 1
  4. Consultative referendum 2
  • Voter turnout. At each polling station the voters’ turnout is electronically recorded during the day, and, after the closing, through this module, the electoral officials are submitting the statements on elections results.  Also, the module checks and prevents multiple voting attempts.

  • Infographics on the election day. All interested citizens can watch in real-time how the elections take place. The infographics show data on voters’ turnout, voters’ distribution (by gender, age, region), as well as the preliminary results. For the Parliamentary elections, this application provided a successful view of disaggregated data, being available throughout the day on the main site of the CEC. A proof of its good functioning is the number of more than 1.7 million direct visits.

The real-time data interface was developed based on an idea proposed by the team of young developers and designers within a creative laboratory, the first organized in the electoral field by CEC and UNDP, in 2018 - InnoVoter. More than 30 students and young professionals (including 3 women) for three days, guided by a dedicated team of UNDP IT consultants and representatives of the CEC's IT Department, analyzed dozens of data sets and designed prototypes, focusing on accessibility, disaggregation and ease of use of the information needed to be exposed during Parliamentary elections. In addition to the symbolic prize received, the winning team felt its own contribution to such an important national process.

Another novelty of the 2019 Parliamentary elections in Moldova was the first use of diaspora.voteaza.md application. On the election day, any citizen of the Republic of Moldova, being at that moment outside the country, could see which the closest open polling station is and which is less crowded. Once the voter indicated his/her place of residence, the application generated locations for the three closest polling stations. The application was accessed by more than 42,000 voters, and 70% of them used the mobile phone for this purpose. In addition, diaspora.voteaza.md also attracted the most vulnerable group of Moldovan voters: 48% of those who used the application were aged 25-34.

In conclusion, a transparent and fair electoral process means new tools developed for the needs of voters as well as an updated electoral legislation. And for this we need:

  • Involvement of civil society and youth with new ideas and tools, in the processes that until now fully belonged to the electoral management body;
  • Thorough analysis of the country's voters and their needs as to facilitate their access to the information and to the polling station premises;
  • Development of IT electoral tools in a simple and easy way, and at the same time consistent with IT trends;
  • Test and piloting of all applications/tools.