Fresh Approach to Voter Fatigue Turns Zombies Loose In Ukraine

Part of InternewsNext, a series highlighting 30 youth-led media initiatives.

Зомбі в Україні

The crowdsourced election monitoring platform, a project of Internews Ukraine, is using an unconventional marketing approach to encourage Ukrainians, especially young people, to vote in the country’s upcoming Parliamentary elections and to report potential election violations during the campaign and on Election Day (Oct. 28). A promotional video for the site (above), which has garnered more than 16,000 views on YouTube so far, features zombies roaming among the masses on the streets of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. While unsuspecting locals scream upon discovering the walking dead in their midst, subtitles convey the message: “Why are people turning into zombies? Who you are is up to you! Stop the epidemic: follow the elections.”

The ElectUA website, which was launched in mid-September, collects reports of potential election violations from the public and displays them on an interactive map (designed by Citivox and DevSeed) that users can filter by type of violation, region, date, verification status, and submission medium. Citizens can report suspected violations directly on the website, through its Facebook page or Twitter feed, and via e-mail, phone, or text message. A team of moderators examines each submission and checks its veracity. 834 violations have been reported to date, in categories from campaign obstruction and attempting to influence election officials to “buying” votes. If necessary, submitters may request legal assistance directly on the site.

One reported violation alleges that Andrei Putilov, an UDAR paty candidate for representative of a district in the Kherson Oblast in southeastern Ukraine, is buying the support of elderly voters by providing them with round-trip transportation, gift bags, and a free lunch of borscht and mashed potatoes with gravy at the local factory he owns. See the video shot by a young reporter for the newspaper Khersonskie Vesti who hopped on the bus with the group before he was taken away for questioning by factory security, who attempted to force him to erase the video until he was able to call the police for assistance.

This project of Internews Ukraine was supported by Internews with funding from USAID.

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