In announcing that Georgia’s parliamentary elections would take place October 1, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration affirmed its commitment to conduct what one official said would be an “exemplary” vote. New technologies are helping election monitors hold officials to such pledges, but they still have limitations, experts say.
While new technologies can support efforts to promote clean elections and, more broadly, the overall democratization process in Eurasia and elsewhere, they are not necessarily a difference-maker. That was the conclusion of participants in a recent panel discussion hosted by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington on July 19.
Rakesh Sharma, Director of Applied Research at IFES, reviewed how the last few years have seen substantial increases in access to these technologies, which include mobile phones, the Internet, social networks and other multimedia devices. This growth has been especially rapid in the developing world.
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Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.