TechCamp SMS Tool Gives Voting a Different Spin in the Ukraine Elections!

Jamie Findlater
July 3, 2014

Vadim Georgienko originally attended TechCamp Kiev in 2012 as a TechCamp participant, where he met Trevor Knoblich from Frontline SMS. Together they came up with a new way to use SMS to make an impact not only on their local website, but in the national elections.

Coming out of TechCamp, Vadim’s first project was a tool called “SMS Like”, which works similar to “like” on Facebook whereby mobile users can register their support for projects that should be funded using crowdfunding on a platform that Vadim manages called “Dobrochyn.”

The original tool he created uses open code, is free, and provides the installation of the widget “SMS-like” provide a possibility to install SMS-counter at any friendly web-sites for better promotion (also free of charge). The success of the tool that Vadim created was so popular, that he used his expertise as a trainer in 3 additional TechCamp events in 2013 held in Kiev and Donetsk.

During a follow on consultation, the Ukrainian foundation “Young Community,” decided to use similar technology within a project called “Partnership with open code. Step 1 «Pick up»” (2013-2014) supported by the Democracy Grants Program of the US Embassy in Ukraine. This successful pilot used “SMS Like” to expand work aimed at the activation of rural youth in Odessa’s region, where the Internet access is very poor.

The “SMS Like” tool popularity continued to grow, and received an unexpected continuation during the presidential elections in May 2014. May 2014 was an important election for Ukraine, and Ukrainian NGO “Youth Corporation” decided to provide pilot SMS-voting for the first time in Ukraine. The main purpose of this deployment was to promote the active participation of citizens during election of the Ukrainian President 25 May 2014 and to draw attention to new technology and tools which can significantly enhance the impact of people on the various processes in the country.

Small and bright project “SMS-President” was supported by local resources (crowdfunding) as well as the Democracy Grants Program of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The project’s team used the already designed on-line platform and tools but instead of community projects they published registered candidates for President and as well as deploying local sms-voting for the position of Odessa’s mayor. They used the tools for the project web-site, which was made with the help of google web-site service and free host.

The campaign was promoted via youtube and facebook with campaigns such as “Strengthening the role of citizens” (Ukraine) and “Let’s change Odessa together” (Odessa). As a result, there were 21972 votes received in the Presidential election and 1118 received in the Mayoral election.

What a great win for TechCamp Kiev, and congrats to Luke Schtele, the Foreign Service Officer who organized TechCamp Kiev and the subsequent follow on events! It’s great to see the viral impact that projects started at TechCamp continue to have long term!