Groundbreaking Voter Registration Tools Open Sourced

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Today, Libya's High National Elections Commission and Caktus Group open sourced their SMS voter registration system, SmartElect. Open sourcing makes it freely available for adoption by other organizations and governments.

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Building upon the technological success of an SMS or text message voter registration system, the Libyan High National Elections Commission (HNEC) is releasing the code base for free. The system, now called SmartElect, enabled more than 1.5 million Libyans to register to vote using text messages during two elections in 2014. Together with software development firm Caktus Group, they are open-sourcing SmartElect, allowing other governments to freely use and adapt the software.

HNEC developed SmartElect in response to logistical challenges with democratic access. Libya is more than 679 hundred thousand square miles with large swaths in the Sahara Desert. SmartElect’s suite of nine tools extended HNEC’s reach to remote populations, sent alerts to citizens warning of polling center changes, and allowed election workers to monitor voting day activities.

“This technology has contributed to the improvement of the performance of our organization [HNEC] significantly. It helped us to overcome many difficulties that hindered the application of electoral laws. Further, it has saved us considerable time, effort, and money,” said Dr. Emad Alsaiah, Chairman of the Libya High National Elections Commission.

SmartElect is the first system of its scale used in an election. Furthermore, this is the first time an SMS elections management system has been offered as open source; other systems are proprietary.

“For new democracies, a new approach was needed to ensure access and inclusivity,” said Tobias McNulty, CEO and co-founder of Caktus Group. “Libya is a good example of how we can incorporate a familiar technology like SMS in an innovative way. We do not need to break down barriers to participation; we can leapfrog them.”

SmartElect requires customization for each area’s electoral process, but provides a head start for any government interested in creating an easy-to-access and transparent system. The open sourced system represents nearly two years of development effort from an international team of programmers led by Caktus Group. Open sourcing partners include Praekelt Foundation, Forsa Consulting, the MIS Department Inc, and Ona Systems, Inc.

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About the Libyan High National Elections Commission
The Libyan High National Election Commission (HNEC) has maintained its status as an independent, neutral institution. HNEC is responsible for the implementation and administration of elections and issues decisions related to the electoral process as authorized by the Parliament.

About Caktus Consulting Group
Caktus Group ( is a leading U.S. web and SMS application development company that specializes in Django, an open source web framework. Caktus has built over 100 secure and reliable applications that have reached more than 70 million people worldwide.

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Hao Nguyen
Caktus Group
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