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Voter registration for the Myanmar elections

Connecting 35 million Myanmar citizens to democracy with secure, offline-capable elections software

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Context

In partnership with the IFES (International Foundation for Election Systems) and the Myanmar UEC (Union Election Commission), we built a series of desktop and offline-capable web apps to securely manage the 35 million registrants for the first democratic elections in Myanmar in 25 years. This is the largest IT project completed in the Myanmar language.

IFES supports citizens’ rights to participate in free and fair elections.

Features:

  • Check my name - An online platform for citizens to check their voter registration status
  • Township Voter Registration (TVR) - The TVR allows for designated UEC agents to update registrants information right from their township.
  • Central Voter Registration (CVR) - Township-level data was sent to the CVR database for sanitization, to ensure that there were no duplicates, overwrites, or formatting errors.

Challenges & Goals of Project

  • Goal: Create a secure, stable and offline compatible way to manage the data for 30 million registrants

  • Challenge 1: The voter registration data collected at the local township level needed to be transferred securely to a central location (offline) and input into the central voter registration database to ensure no duplicate entries, incorrect formatting or overwrites
  • Challenge 2: No network connection. The data for voter registration needed to be transferred offline through USB drives, due to infrastructure limits (no 3G coverage). Offline data transfer involved using data packaging, data encryption, etc.
  • Challenge 3: 100% accuracy and security

Design

Simple and Easy to Use
Direct communication with our clients during the design ensured that the system remained simple to use while providing details on the user’s registration status. We emphasized a simple user interface that communicated the actions needed for each registration step ensuring a consistent and reliable user experience for each component of the system.

Myanmar elections software

Consistent User Interface
We followed very specific UI guidelines regarding name, color and data to ensure consistent communication in the call to actions. Consulting our client’s feedback from our wireframes and mockups, we utilized a joint dropdown menu and map for the Township selection and a three step navigation support in the header so the user could clearly identify the steps in the registration process. We strengthened the call to actions by incorporating the blue from the call to actions in our illustrations.

Customized Data Visualization
We utilized Sketch, Mapbox and Leaflet to create customized layers representing Myanmar’s state, district and township levels. Since there was no available vector map for Myanmar’s Townships so we created the Township layer and adjusted the opacity of the layers so that it’s possible to see each of the layers. The use of map and list provided greater accessibilities to the voters to they could easily see the status of the Township’s registration.

Metrics

  • 8 months
  • 4 weeks to prototype for online app
  • 70% voter turnout
  • 75% of population checked name information
  • 35 million voters from 325 townships
  • 7.6 million amendments

Technology

  • Encrypted SQLite + compiled with Golang. This makes it very difficult to hack either the database or the process that grants access to the database. With security support from Electron.js and Golang in the TVR.
  • Data visualization with Mapbox, chartist.js,and D3.js,
  • High performance for low bandwidth with OpenVSwitch and PostGreSQL. Responsive applications optimized to work offline or in areas with poor connection with old or limited hardware. STP allows the various links to be muted or enabled whenever an underlying hosts become unreachable. With PostGreSQL in replication mode, the setup is made so the standby master can take over automatically if the active master becomes unavailable.

Takeaway

  • On-the-ground work in Myanmar, we were able to engage with the local tech community. The Check My Name open API provided massive support for civic hacking.
  • Provided an almost autonomous platform to support in the event of a hardware or software issue and improved our work with high availability and reliability Docker-based platforms.
  • Creative solutions to unique problems, like low bandwidth and high demand for security.

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