By Andrew Irumba
Preparations for the 2021 general election are in high gear on Tuesday morning the Electoral Commission started the official display of voters’ registers across the country.
In a statement released by the Commission’s Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama, all Ugandans are urged to go to their designated polling stations and check the lists, to ensure that their names are there.
Justice Byabakama’s statement reads thus;
Commencement of Display of the National Voters’ Register and Registers for Special Interest Groups (SIGs), 19th February – 10th March 2020
In preparation for the 2020-2021 General Elections, and in accordance with Section 25 of the Electoral Commission Act (Cap 140), the Electoral Commission has appointed 19th February – 10th March 2020 as the period for the Display of the National Voters’ Register.
The display of the Voters’ Register shall begin at 8:00 am and end at 6:00 pm on each of the appointed dates including weekends, at all polling stations throughout Uganda.
The Commission has further appointed 19th – 28th February 2020 as the period for display of the Voters’ Registers for the following Special Interest Groups (SIGs) at the village level: the Youths, Persons with Disability (PWD) and Older Persons.
The purpose of this display exercise is to enable voters to:
1. Check for the correctness of their particulars on the Voters’ Register;
2. Confirm that their photographs appear against correct particulars on the Register;
3. Raise objections to the inclusion and/or removal of a voter’s particulars from the Register;
4. Report to the Display Officer, the following categories of persons (if they appear on the Register) for removal:
a) Those who have died;
b) Those who are under 18 years of age;
c) Those who reside or originate from a parish other than the one they are registered in; and,
d) Those who appear more than once on the Voters’ Register.
5. In the case of Special Interest Groups, the Display at the village level is scheduled to take place from 19th to 28th February 2020. This will enable persons comprising the Special Interest Groups to check for the correctness of their particulars on their respective Voters’ Register:
a) In the case of Registers for Youths, the voters will be able to verify that the date of birth is correct. Eligible persons on the Registers for Youths must be aged 18 years and above but less than 30 years as defined by law;
b) In the case of Registers for Persons with Disability (PWDs), the voters will be able to confirm that their particulars (nature of disability) were correctly captured on the Voters’ Register;
c) In the case of Older Persons, voters will be able to verify that the date of birth is correct. Eligible persons on the Registers for Older Persons must be aged 60 years and above at the time of cut-off of registration of voters, that is, 23rd December 2019.
During this exercise, the Electoral Commission will display lists of persons who were recommended for deletion from the National Voters’ Register during the Verification Exercise which was conducted at village level in October 2019.
Please note that any eligible voter who applied for registration but whose particulars are missing on the Voters’ Register, will be able to present his/her case and seek to be included on the Register.
After the display exercise, the lists of all persons recommended for deletion from the National Voters’ Register, shall also be displayed for a period of ten (10) days, that is, from 11th to 20th March 2020 at the respective Parish/Ward Headquarters.
The purpose of this supplementary display exercise is to enable any person who may have been wrongly recommended for deletion to raise an objection to the Parish/Ward Tribunal.
The Parish/Ward Tribunal shall consider and make the final decision concerning recommendations for inclusion, deletion, or correction made by the public.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Parish/Ward Tribunal is appointed by the Magistrate of the area and is comprised of two elders (of 60 years and above) one male and one female, and three other members appointed in consultation with political parties and organisations participating in the elections in the area.
At the end of the entire exercise, all returns will be retrieved from the field and recommendations effected by the Electoral Commission. A final National Voters’ Register for the 2020/2021 General Elections will then be produced.
The general public should carefully note the following:
1. This is a very important exercise, which could determine whether you vote on polling day or not;
2. Fresh application for registration as a voter or application for transfer to another voting location shall not be accepted during this Display exercise;
3. Persons who have applied and changed their particulars on the National Identification Register, for example, the names and/or date of birth, are required to notify the Electoral Commission in writing about the changes. Such persons will be required to provide relevant supporting documents to our Display Officers so that the changes are effected on the Voters’ Register.
4. The display officers shall be physically stationed at the respective polling station, throughout the entire display period. This is to enable voters conveniently locate their polling station, especially those which might have been affected by the exercise of re-organisation of polling stations.
5. In the case of display of SIGs Registers, Display Officers shall be physically stationed at a display centre in each Village, throughout the entire display period, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm on each of the appointed dates, including weekends.
6. The Registers for Special Interest Groups will be displayed for a shorter period because the elections for Older Persons, Youth and PWDs Committees will be conducted earlier than the others.
7. The Display of Voters’ Registers shall be conducted with utmost impartiality and officials should allow any interested member of the public, including agents of political parties, to witness the exercise.
8. As part of our awareness and mobilisation campaign, the Electoral Commission conducted stakeholder workshops in each of the twelve electoral regions of Uganda and met with respective district leaders to underscore the importance of participating in this exercise.
The Commission is further conducting an extensive public awareness and mobilization campaign through print, electronic and digital media, as well as other public engagement initiatives to achieve high stakeholder participation in the cleaning of the National Voters’ Register and Registers for Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
9. All complaints arising from the Display Exercise of the National Voters Register shall be addressed to the Returning Officers of the respective Electoral Districts and shall be handled in accordance with Article 61(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and Section 15 of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap 140.
As at the commencement of the Display exercise, the electoral statistics stand as follows:
1. No. of Districts in Uganda: 135
2. No. of Counties: 257
3. No. of Constituencies: 296
4. No. of Sub Counties/Towns/Municipal Divisions: 2,062
5. No. of Parishes: 10,029
6. No. of Villages: 68,733
7. No. of Polling Stations: 34,344
8. No. of registered voters: 17,782,594
A clean Voters’ Register is a cornerstone for conducting peaceful, free, fair and credible elections. The Display exercise gives the electorate an opportunity to participate in the cleaning of the National Voters’ Register.
The Commission, therefore, calls on all stakeholders in the electoral process to participate in this exercise. Voters are particularly urged to go to their respective polling stations during this period and check for the correctness of voter particulars on the Register.
Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon
Chairperson, Electoral Commission