By Gad Masereka & Frank Kamuntu
The Electoral Commission, through its Public Relations Officer Jotham Taremwa, briefed online journalists on how far the Commission has ensured preparations as per 2021 general election exercise through voters registration update is concerned.
In a press conference dubbed #AskEC, held at the EC offices in Kampala on Friday morning, Taremwa revealed that the register update is now a crucial process for anyone to qualify for voting.
He advised all Ugandans to visit their Parishes and avail the requirements to be qualified as voters.
“The qualifications for you to register as a voter include a National identity card and if one lost it then they should visit National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and get a letter confirming his/her registration. They should also get a police letter to backup the form,” Taremwa said.
During the question and answer session at which various Ugandans ‘shot’ at the electoral’s publicist through different social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Taremwa revealed that issues related to online voting are not authorized, since there is need for physical appearance at the polling station for voting.
He however said,soon early next year,voters would be able to check their votability (but you can’t update it online) status on line once they start the display exercise of voters’ register. “Right now you can’t access it because we’re updating it,we can’t upload a register which we’ve just started updating,but it will be accessible online once done,” he said.
He advised those abroad but with the spirit for their nation to return to Uganda and register since there’s no provision in law to enable on-line update of the voters’ register.
“The Commission is not there to persuade Ugandans to get engaged in voting exercise or registration exercise. Our mandate is only Sensitization, Mobilization and Education to the public on the roles of each Ugandan in the national voting exercise,” Taremwa said.
Taremwa also urged Ugandans to value and effectively use the allocated time of registration and identifying their polling stations, present their details at registration centers so as not to miss out on the exercise, since the Commission has to save time for the national nominations which are scheduled to begin in April 2020.
For Ugandans who might need to change their voting locations, Taremwa said that the law only provides for registering either where you originate from or where you stay. It doesn’t provide for registering where you work from, therefore if you work, after work go to where you stay or where you originate from and register,he advised.
He added that “However, for one to qualify to transfer his or her voting location they must get a form from the Updating Center and take it to the Chairperson LC1 to confirm citizenship in that village and then present it back to the EC, after which they will be given the transfer form.
While addressing the issue of delay of voting materials at the polling stations, Taremwa apologized and said it is unfortunate that some polling stations received polling materials late in the last general elections, although they were compensated with more time and ended up voting next morning. He also promised that in the 2021 general elections all voting materials will be at polling stations in time.
After updating registration details, one will be issued with a voter’s location slip during the voter’s registration exercise which begins February to March 2020.
Taremwa added that allegations of EC levying high nomination fees for contesting candidates are not right since it’s Parliament that decides how much is supposed to be paid by each candidate so as the EC, they just implement.
General Update of the National Voters’ Register begun Thursday November 21 and will end on Wednesday December,11 2019. It is being conducted at specific stations of each parish throughout Uganda, starting from 8:00am to 6:00pm, on each of the appointed dates, including weekends, and a person who is already registered as a voter anywhere in Uganda must not register again, but verify their voter’s details.
During the update exercise, registered voters who wish to transfer to new voting locations will be able to apply for such transfer. A voter who wishes to transfer to a new voting location will be required to present confirmation that he/she originates from or is, at the time of application for transfer, a resident of the Parish of that (new) voting location. Such applicants should ensure they have details of their previous voting location. #UGDesides2021