BIG DATA BIG DATA APPLICATION IN ELECTIONS By Timothy Oriedo T he recently concluded party primaries did showcase various dimensions that big data could help resolve. The Big Data gamut spans hindsight, insight and foresight. More often the case, its applied in retrospect to interrogate through data mining thus offering different stakeholders including media, analysts and strategists with clarity of hindsight. Throughout all these phases there has been varied awareness and appreciation of Big Data tools and practices by various Election Machineries. There is need however to appreciate the full scale of Big Data use case in election to improve quality of journalism and decisioning by the various party secretariats not to mention its application by the regulatory authority to anticipate proclivities and deploy corrective measures way in advance. This then paves way to insights, which through drilling and dimensional introspection seeks to provide deeper meaning. The bigger benefit of the Big Data comes in the promise to prospect the outcomes with a view to deploy corrective action towards managing a desirable outcome. Take for instance the explosion of Political Strategists and Analysts who hop form one media outlet to the other, the value derivative of the media houses is compromised by the very fact that the source on insights that the analysts use during most of the talk shows borders sensationalism with ‘‘The party primaries provided an opportunity to gauge the trend, there is an opportunity for the media, IEBC, Government, Party Secretariat and individual Party campaign secretariats to start embracing the use of the Big Data Tools to make good informed decisions and have a competitive head start.’’ 32 MAL 18/17 ISSUE disregard to fact. Big Data offers a fact checking platform that the various TV and Radio shows producers can use to moderate the discussions. Social Sentiment Analysis is another Big Data application that is used to gauge the polarity of various comparative dimensions. It leverages on social media networks and with the high penetration of digital platforms and increased reliance on the platforms by various stakeholders in content distribution, it forms a basis for audience participation which ought not be overlooked as a key indicator of electorate mood and outcomes. For instance, one possible use of this big data tool would be to cross validate the pen and paper research that the leading pollsters use for rating the popularity of various aspirants and this could allay the various contentions that occasioned outcomes of key party primaries in a number of regions. We were for instance surprised by the outcomes of a number of gubernatorial seats based on the pollsters ratings and this led to most of the aspirants to contest in court or resort to go for an independent party ticket.