EC fails Ugandans on the electoral process

Posted: April 29, 2015 in Ugandan things

A voter register can determine whether a country will have free and fair elections or not. EC abandoned the National Voters’ Register used during 2010-2011 General Elections. Ugandans that were registered for the elections prior to the 2010/ 2011 General Elections and did not register during the National Identification Card registration are be required to register again to vote.
The rushed voter register update exercise that ends on April 30, 2015 cannot guarantee effective citizen mobilisation, civic education, full participation, and awareness. Rushed electoral process by EC faults on free and fair election culture No wonder the numbers have been low as reported by the Media. EC has already promised not to have any extension but one month is unrealistic. Many Ugandans are likely to be left out.
Current Voter update exercise is intended to be inclusive for all but that this is far from reality. The current Voter register exercise fails to relate fully with our modern mobile society. There are many barriers to the electoral process Ugandans are facing.EC failed to make it convenient enough for every Ugandan citizen of eighteen years and above to participate in the electoral process. Why didn’t Uganda Electoral Commission make it easier for anyone to register or verify their details anywhere? Some eligible voters cannot foot their transport bills to access voter register update centres before the deadline. People are always on the move and must have an opportunity to change their polling station or verify their results online. Technology is supposed to ease work and not leave anyone out. Online voter registration will surely not leave out those in the diaspora.In the wake of 2016 Uganda General elections; we need basic national steps to manage big numbers and additional elective position. Modernisation may reduce error and double voter numbers if only voter registration and voter verification is extended or also put online. Uganda Electoral Commission recently communicated that a national Identity card does not guarantee you any voting rights unless you are on the National voters’ register.
EC has failed to fully act on Voter register update exercise challenges .There have been allegations in the media that some update officials are asking for money from applicants in order to register them. Condemnation of such illegal acts of Extortion by Update Officials in press statements by EC is not enough.EC has not even doubled publicity on the matter with posters or banners at registration centres to emphasize that the process is free. The timing of the voter register update was wrong. It comes at a time when some electoral reforms are yet to be implemented. This may have demoralised some citizens and impacted on the numbers.
Information on Voter register update procedures is still scare despite involvement of even the civil society.EC has not effectively provided the public with clear instructions on how to register to vote and what documents are required, and how to verify their details successfully. EC should develop and publicize a plan to address shortcomings of the Electoral process.
EC should explain in future the relationship between the different registers it will have produced with clear detailed explanations of how each voter register was compiled. Ugandans must exercise their right to vote, but government should do its part by removing all obstacles. EC can explore the option of allowing same day voter registration to help enrol the busy working class Ugandans. NO eligible Ugandan voter should lose their right to vote because of errors or omissions on the register. The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) support to the electoral process is commendable. is a broad civil society coalition
Ivan N Baliboola
nbaliboola@gmail.com

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