After years of campaigning Ghana Election 2012 is finally here. Sadly, my view is not of people lining up at my polling station deep in the hinterlands of Ghana but rather of this:
It snowed quite heavy this morning in Holland and although I decided to work from home instead of braving the cold on my bicycle, I must admit that following the election coverage in Ghana is what has occupied most of my day. Please do not tell my supervisor.
Four years ago around this time, my family and I had all voted. This was after an epic battle the day before to make it into the hinterlands by public transport. It was all extremely stressful but worth it. This year, I am unable to vote but following events keenly from a distance. The internet and social media have revolutionized Ghana election watching from a distance. Four years ago there was Twitter and Facebook and I regularly posted tweets about the journey to vote and the general atmosphere. Four years later, not only has the number of Ghanaian users on Twitter increased exponentially but political parties have come to realize the power of social media. Most candidates have facebook pages and have Twitter accounts.
Here are some of the trailblazers in revolutionizing Ghana election 2012 via social media:
Ghana Decides: This is a ".....non-partisan project launched on March 24 2012 [that] aims to foster a better-informed electorate for free, fair and safe 2012 Elections using online social media" -Their website.
Not only has Ghana Decides led an active campaign all year to educate potential voters, mobilize people to register as well as vote, but they have also organized several interactive debates and discussions.
JoyFM On Youtube and the IEA Ghana Debates:
Indeed debates hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs have been a feature of past elections in Ghana. However, for the first time, the decision by a sitting president to participate in these took the event to a whole new level. Being able to watch the live discussion via the JoyNews Channel on youtube and follow comments on Twitter was nothing short of amazing for me. However, the criteria by which the IEA decides on whom to include in the debate has to be re-examined. Does it make sense to have 4 political parties represented when many more are on the ballot?
Ghana Vote Compass: I must admit I know nothing about how this interactive tool works and the algorithms involved but it is fun and really gets one to reflect on issues rather than personalities and political parties. Sadly, I am not sure that people in Ghana even know the finer details of their political parties' manifestos.
VoteKast GH: Another great interactive tool with data on past elections in Ghana and hopefully data on election 2012 will be available through this tool as it becomes available. Always interesting to see region by region, constituency by constituency trends.
Google Ghana: Not only have they hosted interactive discussions via the Google Hangouts+ platform but they have had some cool google doodles along the way.
Check out the election doodle at google.com.gh which I first saw via a post by fellow blogger Maya Mame.
So as election day comes to a close, I will continue to watch events from a distance hoping that peace and stability are maintained. Will losers concede defeat graciously? Will winners unite the nation? Only time will tell but I hope and pray so.