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EC considers software to ensure fair polls

The Election Commission is considering a software application developed by an international institute to help reduce the risk of violence as well as prevent fraud and vote-buying in future elections.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, an election commissioner, said yesterday that units of the EC were studying the Electoral Risk Management (ERM) Tool and would present the findings to the commissioners for a final decision in two weeks.

If the EC commissioners approve the software, he said a locally developed version of the program should be available within six months.

The ERM Tool was developed by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, also known as International IDEA. It is designed to enhance users' capacity to understand risk factors, analyse risk data and take action to prevent and mitigate poll-related violence.

The software also accumulates and stores large amounts of qualitative, quantitative and geo-spatial data that can grow from election to election, according to the International IDEA website. These data enable users to enhance their understanding of critical electoral issues, conduct cross-election analysis, direct electoral reform efforts, and plan and implement successive electoral processes.

Somchai said he expected the ERM Tool to help the EC manage election-related risks more efficiently, as it would cover 36 internal and external risks. Its ability to help with analyses of situations would allow election officials to identify areas of risk and respond accordingly.

He added that he believed the software would help ensure a successful, reliable and peaceful election.

"This is not an intervention [by foreigners]. We are just borrowing experience from overseas to help with our elections. There are no extra costs," he said.

He said the software had proved to be a success in Bosnia and Nepal, where elections were completed successfully.

Somchai and Pravich Rattanapian, another election commissioner, attended a presentation of the software, which was led by Leena Rikkila Tamang, International IDEA's senior programme officer for Asia-Pacific. The presentation was done at the EC headquarters yesterday.

Violence, protests and clashes between pro- and anti-government groups marred the last general election in February, and voters could not cast their ballots in many sites because of the large presence of protesters.


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