Saturday August 23 2014

EC supports Bill to scrap voters’ cards

By STEPHEN WANDERA & Lilian Namagembe

The Electoral Commission (EC) has backed plans to replace the manual national voters’ register and voters’ cards with an electronic register and use of national identity cards to vote in 2016 general elections.

According to EC chairman Badru Kiggundu, a Bill has been tabled before Cabinet and he hopes it will be enacted before elections to legalise national identity cards as the official voters’ card.
Speaking at the launch of the Uganda Youth Network (UYN) report entitled: “Youth Participation Road map to Uganda’s 2016 Elections and Beyond” at Kampala Serena Hotel, Kiggundu encouraged youth to register and also contest for any election position.

“One of the things that qualify a nation into a middle income country is to have a national identity card. As the Electoral Commission, we have been interested in the registration exercise and hope that if these data is made into law, we shall use it in the next elections. You come with your identity card at a polling centre, our officials swipe it in our machines, you vote and go,” he said.

He added: “This will help in [fighting] those that have specialised in multiple voting. I am afraid those without national identity cards may miss out casting their votes come 2016 general elections”.
National registration of IDs is in progress and according to the Internal Affairs minister, Gen Aronda Nyakairima, 14 million people have so far been registered.

The report presented by UYN executive director Emmanuel Kitamirike accused the EC of being a stumbling block for youth participation in politics.

“Electoral activities and processes are particularly exclusive of youth with disabilities,” reads the report. It adds that the youth are resource-constrained, deprived of access to basic education services and excluded from information sharing.

Parliament urged
Ms Kitamireke called on Parliament for review of the Constitution to make the EC independent and with fiscal autonomy; review the representation of special interest groups in Parliament with the intentions and purpose of strengthening effectiveness of representation and establishing accountability mechanisms to those represented.
Responding to the youths, Mr Kiggundu promised a free and fair election in 2016.