Parliamentary Communication in Uganda
CSDS is partnering with NDI and the parliament of Uganda on the introduction of an SMS based voter consultation system in which voters can send questions, opinions, and requests to their representatives that get centralized in a caseload platform housed in parliament. The key proposition examined is that new technologies will lead to strengthening and a flattening of effective representation and that the social nature of SMS communication will change to changes in the types of demands made by citizens. The PIs are Guy Grossman, Macartan Humphreys, and Gabriella Sacramone-Lutz.
To assess these claims, the project employs two levels of randomization. At the top level participation in the system was determined through a public lottery in which 100 MPs were selected for the pilot from a pool of 200 volunteers (See photos below). At a second level exposure to the platform at the voter level is implemented via radio campaigns that vary the prices that are available to constituents and the feedback they receive on the ways that the system is being used by voters in their constituency.
Note: Images from the December MP lottery. Top figure shows an MP drawing a ticket number; bottom figure shows the recrding of selected MPs (Credit: NDI)