What you need to know about voting and the polling station

As the country votes today, Solomon Arinaitwe outlines what every voter is obliged to do

Thursday February 18 2016

Voters at a polling station in Kampala

Voters at a polling station in Kampala. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa  


KAMPALA- The 15,277,196 registered voters are expected to file at 28,010 polling stations across the country, beginning 7am this morning to choose a president and Member of Parliament for their respective constituencies.

Voting ends at 4pm, and at stroke of the hour, the Election Constable stands behind the last person in the queue who will be the last one to cast the ballot.

There are eight presidential candidates in the race, half of whom are sponsored by political parties.

The Electoral Commission retired the old voters’ register and will use a version updated last year, which integrates data about individuals registered for the National Identity Card.

The EC, which is the legal entity to administer the elections, has issued Voter Location Slips (VLS) as additional identifiers for eligible voters and as a means to enable voters to easily locate their polling stations.

There will also be Biometric Voter Verification System machines to read the finger prints of a registered voter and match it with their particulars in the voters’ register to ensure the registered person is the one who has physically appeared to cast the ballot.

These elections are important because they empower you as a voter in exercise of your universal adult suffrage, to choose a president who will be the executive head of government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces over the next five years.

While the person you tick on the ballot as your Member of Parliament will represent your concerns in the August House, legislate for the country, appropriate government finances and provide oversight until 2021, when the next scheduled elections will happen.

This is, therefore, a big responsibility not to be undertaken casually because the exercise will determine the fate of the current and future generations.

As such, the Daily Monitor provides in-depth, one-stop guide reference information on understanding your eligibility to cast the ballot in today’s elections, the voting procedure, what gadgets are allowed inside polling stations and the process of tallying and announcing the results.

The officials
EC officials at each polling station shall be headed by a presiding officer under who shall be Polling Assistants, election constables and orderly officials. They will wear identifying aprons.

What is allowed?
The Electoral Commission says voters can come with their phones, but they will be asked to switch them off during voting in what the electoral body says is to protect the confidentiality of the secret ballot. Voters will be free to use their phones during results’ tallying, counting and announcement.

Before voting starts, the law requires the presiding officer to open the polling kit, show it to the public and candidates’ agents present and turn it upside down to prove that it is empty.

There must be a minimum of five voters before voting starts. The Presiding officer must reveal the bundles of wrapped, sealed ballot papers to prove that they have not been tampered with.

Before voters are allowed to vote, the voter will give their name for identification; the polling assistant will crosscheck the right hand thumb to ensure that the voter has not already voted.

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