Gambia, voters will head to the polls this spring to elect local officials as expected, but it will be the last time they will vote using glass marbles. For the past 60 years, each Gambian has cast a vote by dropping a glass marble into a barrel painted in party colors. (Election officials listen to make sure each voter drops only one marble into the barrel.) When the barrels are full, the marbles are counted by pouring them into wooden trays with 200 or 500 holes. The system works well, discourages fraud, and allows illiterate voters to participate, Gambian officials have said in the past. But they will now be switching to paper ballots to meet international standards.
Estonia, citizens are enjoying a reputation as global leaders in digital governance. Known as e-Estonia, the system handles almost all government functions digitally, linking legislation, elections, banking, education, health care, and taxes on a single platform. Estonians can vote by computer from home and apply for loans without having to fill out lengthy applications (the system pulls all the necessary information for them). The country estimates that it saves 2 percent of its gross domestic product each year in government salaries and expenses. Marriage, divorce, and home purchases, however, still require a personal transaction.
Finland, robots are helping to teach children. Some Finnish schools are participating in a yearlong pilot program that uses a robot named Elias to teach students language and math. Elias speaks 23 languages and is able to understand and answer student questions. Elias can also give teachers feedback to alert them to students’ potential learning problems. “I see Elias as one of the tools to get different kinds of practice and different kinds of activities into the classroom,” one Finnish language teacher told Euronews. One thing Elias cannot handle: maintaining classroom discipline.