Uganda: Citizens Have 12 Days to Register for 2021 Polls

29 November 2019

Ugandans have until December 11 to update their particulars on the National Voters' Register with the Electoral Commission ahead of the 2021 General Election, the Electoral Commission (EC) announced yesterday.

During the general update exercise that commenced on November 21, the electoral body is also registering first-time applicants who are eligible to vote and those whose previous attempts to register were unsuccessful.

The EC is also giving chance to Ugandans who wish to transfer to new voting location or areas of their origin.

Justice Simon Byabakama, the EC's chairperson, while flagging off the mobilisation drive, asked Ugandans to participate in the exercise, saying it was a precursor for Ugandans to exercise their democratic right in determining the future wellbeing of the country.

"Together we can set the pace for peaceful elections through the various activities. Do not come at the tail end of the process to claim your right when you did not participate in the update and registration exercise," Justice Byabakama said.

"We calling upon every citizen to participate in the process to avoid blaming others," he added.

Justice Byabakama said the exercise is being conducted at various parishes at no cost.

"All you need is to provide details of your National Identity cards or proof that you are Ugandans," he said.

The EC chairperson said the exercise, running for 20 days from November 21 to December 11, will not be extended.

"We are not saying that a person without a National Identity Card will not register, you should provide information to prove that you are a Ugandan to get registered. If your parents registered, you provide their details, birth certificate and or certification from the Local Council 1 (LC1) that you are a Ugandan because we do not want to disenfranchise citizens of their right to vote for their leaders."

On new constituencies

Asked about the arrangements on the new constituencies created by Parliament, he said EC has not received any formal communication but insisted that if they are informed, they will work out the cost implications.

"We have already demarcated the constituencies but if there are new ones created, we shall determine the cost implications because we shall have to go back to the ground to demarcate the constituencies and the polling centers," Justice Byabakama said without revealing how much the exercise would require.

He said as of November 21, EC had registered 135 districts with 253 counties, 296 constituencies, 2,057 sub-counties, towns and municipal divisions across the country.

Statistics also show that EC has 10,011 parishes, 68,649 villages, 34,236 polling stations with 16,435,315 voters registered.

"We expect the number of polling stations and voters to increase after this exercise of update and registration and we shall inform the citizens on the process of confirming their registration status using online platforms in due course," Justice Byabakama said.

According to EC, the exercise seeks to register first-time applicants who are eligible to vote, those whose previous attempts to register on the National Voters' Register were unsuccessful due to various reasons, transfer particulars of persons who wish to vote at their parishes or wards of origin.

The EC spokesperson, Mr Jotham Taremwa, said more than 20,000 people have since been recruited to conduct the exercise.

"Those who prove that they can work, we shall continue with them until the end of the elections," he added.

The exercise seeks to give registered voters a chance to confirm their registration and correctness of their particulars, to update data of students and assigning polling stations to those who have attained voting age.

Mr Stephen Nyabongo, the chief executive officer of Uganda Project Implementation and Management Centre (UPIMAC), said the drive seeks to create awareness among the population through various activities, including radio talk shows and drives and public addresses across the country.

Verification exercise

Meanwhile, the exercise is being undertaken countrywide.

In Jinja, the district returning officer, Mr Dan Ruhemba Kamusiime, said the exercise was going on as planned. He said there are many transfers to other polling stations.

"We have experienced many transfers of voters from one polling station to other parishes within the constituency, leaving some polling stations with fewer voters," he said.

In Soroti, the district registrar, Mr Charles Egimu, said the registration exercise had started with low turn-up of people, most of whom are seeking for transfer to vote in other polling stations due to uncontrollable circumstances.

Challenge

Mr Egimu said the district faced difficulty in capturing data due to weak batteries for the biometric machines.

However, he said the exercise is of an added advantage to those who did not register as a result of negligence or being under aged by the time of the previous registration exercise.

In Amuria District, Mr Silver Omer, the LC5 councillor for Asamuk, said the machines were failing to detect thumbprints of elderly persons.

Mr Deo Natukunda, the regional officer in charge EC in eastern Uganda, said the exercise is on, but declined to divulge details.

Ms Stella Isodo, the former woman FDC candidate for Ngora District, asked its incumbent leaders to push the voters to register and also check out for their voter details.

She said there is no need for voter apathy, adding that people should take up the exercise seriously.

Low turn-out

Lira Municipality registered a low turnout of voters checking their status in the ongoing voter register verification exercise at village level.

A mini-survey conducted by Daily Monitor on Wednesday morning found that in most of the polling stations, a negligible number of people had verified their voter registration status.

By 10:30am, only five people had turned up for the exercise at Adyel Division headquarters, and in a day, at least 15 people participate in the exercise at this particular polling station.

At Ojwina Division headquarters polling station, only three people from Alito Camp Parish had visited the station to take part in the exercise.

In Kabarole, the district returning officer, Mr Daniel Nayebare, said those who want to transfer their locations are given forms by the Electoral Commission officials to fill in their details of where they have been voting from and where they want to vote from.

Mr Nayebare said it was the responsibility of the village chairpersons and parish supervisors to mobilise people in one place where the electoral commission officials find them and they participate in the exercise.

He said the parish supervisors together with the chairperson LCIs make a road map on where and when voters can go for verification and registration in their respective villages.

Purpose

The purpose of the exercise is to enable new applicants register as voters, allow those who wish to transfer to new voting location, confirm registration and correctness of voter particulars while students registered in 2017 by NIRA and have attained voting age should report to registration centres with their NIN numbers and choice of polling station.

Reported by Jalira Namyalo, Denis Edema, George Muron, Immaculate Amony and Scovia Atuhaire

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