The Election Reporting Center or ERC is a multi-purpose support center for local journalists covering the 2011 Elections. The Center provides daily online services for local reporters through the use of ICTs and social media applications.
The ERC is fully equipped with high speed internet, a reporting minivan, a call center and an SMS platform.
As part of the support program, over 300 hundred Liberian reporters have been networked through a free cell to cell call system called a “close user group” during the election period (campaign, voting and results announcement). The system is powered by Lonestar Communications.
The Elections Reporting Center serve several purposes. It provides a venue for day-to-day technical and professional support in the use of ICTs and social media for elections reporting. It will serve as a monitoring hub to monitor and report on media coverage of the elections across four channels (newspaper, urban-based radio, television and community based radio). The Election Reporting Center also serves as a platform to receive and document incidents of campaign violence across the country. Monitors have been recruited and are being paid under a separate program with the Ghana based Africa Elections Project but the center will provide the platform for these monitors to send information for analysis and reporting.
Finally, the center will host the “Elections Day Results Reporting” technology designed to aggregate smaller results from precincts for mass media dissemination via a two-way communication between journalists and the system. The system works by assigning various protocols to the selected elections centers and their corresponding precincts. Reporters will then be assigned to cover these centers and submit certified results from each precinct to the system via text. Once the total polling places have been completed the system automatically tabulates the Center results and shares across the platform. In some cases, the system would tabulate regional results based on the number of centers and release those results, avoiding the airing of piecemeal precincts results on radio.
Results from polling centers will be received in the Center via SMS send by reporters and these will be verified, processed before being rebroadcast. The results are unofficial and only indicative of the number of polling places the journalists will be covering.