Slow start for national voter register display exercise

Friday February 21 2020

No voters. A voter register display officer

No voters. A voter register display officer takes a nap as she waits for voters to turn up at Moruapesur Primary School polling station, Soroto District, on Wednesday. BY PHOTO BY SIMON PETER EMWAMU 

By MONITOR TEAM

The display of the national voters’ register and the register for special interest groups on Wednesday kicked off countrywide with a low turn-up.

The 20-day exercise will run up to March 10, and the Electoral Commission (EC) has appealed to the general public to embrace it. Uganda will go to the polls in one year’s time.

The first day of the register display exercise kicked off at about 7:30am at most polling stations across the country.

The EC spokesperson, Mr Jotham Taremwa, told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that the low turn up was nothing to worry about as the exercise is voluntary for first time voters.

“If you have ever voted before, there is no need for you to go and check the register because you are sure that your particulars are there. We have many days allocated for this exercise and people can go and check the registers at their convenience,” Mr Taremwa said.

On Tuesday, the EC launched the display exercise where Ugandans were urged to check the correctness of their particulars on the voters’ register.

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The Uganda Project Implementation and Management Centre (UPIMAC) consultancy coordinator, Mr Phillip Wagamala, urged voters to check for their particulars on the displayed registers.

“Go and check for your correct names, age and confirm your photographs appear against your correct particulars on the register. Raise objections to the inclusion and/or removal of a voter’s particulars from the register,” Mr Wagamala said.

UPIMAC consultancy firm was tasked to mobilise the citizens for the national registration exercise to ensure that information reaches everyone
Special interest groups were also encouraged to verify the date of birth for the youth aged between 18 and 30 years as well as older persons of 60 years and above.

The EC said the display of the two registers; the national voters register and the register for the special interest persons, will take place between February 19 to March 10 and February 10 to February 28, respectively.

Most polling stations Daily Monitor visited on Wednesday evening had less than 30 voters turning up to check for their particulars.

Mr Joseph Ssebalu, one of the voters at Kamwokya Polling Station Kampala said his transfer from Wandegeya Polling Station was successful.

A display officer at Bazaar Ward in Arua Municipality, who declined to be named because she is not authorised to speak to the press, said some of the names were missing on the voters’ register.

The officer said there is need for vigorous sensitisation through local media as many residents had not turned up while others were going about with their businesses.

At Awindiri Primary School Polling Station, the situation was not any different.

Ms Grace Mawuwa, a voter, said: “I bounced because my name is missing from this polling station yet I have been a voter here. I will now check again tomorrow from another station.”

Residents in Jinja who were going about their daily routine on Wednesday said there is still plenty of time to check their names.

The Jinja District Returning Officer, Mr Geoffrey Feta, said the national voters’ registration display will last for 21 days to allow voters enough time to check for their particulars.

Mr Feta explained that 10 of the days have been gazetted for special interest groups, including youth and elderly.

A survey conducted around Jinja Town revealed that many people were unaware of the exercise in spite of the presence of EC officers displaying banners urging the public to go and check for their details.

Mr Charles Karoli, a businessman on Main Street in Jinja, said he read about the voters’ display exercise in the newspapers and will go check for his name.
“I did not even go to crosscheck during the updating of the voters’ register last year because I voted in 2016; so I am sure I am still there,” he said.

Ms Gloria Nansubuga, a resident of Budondo Sub-county in Jinja, said she was not aware of the exercise.
Just like other parts of the country, Soroti Municipality too registered a low turn up on day one.
The voters’ registers were displayed at Pamba Primary School, Moruapesur Primary School, Public Gardens, Soroti Baptist Church and prisons polling stations.

“I’m not allowed to talk to the media but we are here to scrutinise and clean up the national register. This exercise will allow voters to check their particulars and check non-citizens, and those who are under 18 who are not eligible by law,” one of the display officers in Soroti said.

Ms Martha Amuge, a display officer at South Kengere Ward, Eastern Division, had only verified five people by 2pm on Wednesday.

Mr Samuel Okusan, the display officer at Teso inn, North Division who had only verified 10 people by the time of compilation of this story blamed the low turn up on poor attitude of the public.

“Our people are fond of doing things at the last minute when the time is limited. Right now they may not be so serious,” Mr Okusan said.

The seven different cells of Central Ward, Eastern Division of Soroti Municipality combined had less than 20 people checking for their details on day one.
Ms Proscovia Akello, a display officer of Cells H to Z, Kigandani Ward, said the start was not bad as she received some people to verify their particulars.

Lira District
In Lira, as the display exercise went on, officials complained that some polling stations had not received the special interest group voters’ register.

The Lira District registrar, Mr Paul Tony Osinde, said they realised that the special interest group register was missing on Tuesday while they distributed the voter’s registers in villages.

“I have reported the matter to ECheadquarters in Kampala and they are working on it. I think within two or three days we shall receive them. This is a minor error during the packaging and transportation, unless those villages have no people of special interest group,” Mr Osinde told Daily Monitor on Wednesday afternoon.

He added that the national voters register display exercise has started without any other challenge.
Despite the complaints, most polling stations had officials waiting for the voters to crosscheck their particulars.

Mr Benjamin Ewal, the EC registrar for Kitgum District, also noted a low turn-up for the exercise in the area.
There has also been a low turn-up in Kasese and Kabarole districts as the Commission commenced the display of the national voters’ register in 135 districts countrywide.

Mr Isaya Thembo, the LCI chairperson for Kitooro Zone in Kasese Municipality, said he was not aware that the display of National voters register had commenced.

At Kasese Primary School by midday, Ms Mariam Mbambu, the display officer, had not received the materials and no one had come to verify their particulars.

Mr Joseph Bireghu, a resident, said he knew about the exercise and was planning to check from his polling station.

“The exercise has started today because I have been hearing the information on radio, I am aware,” Mr Bireghu said.

Mr Charles Wafula, the assistant district registrar, said they received the materials on Tuesday evening and by 8am on Wednesday they had finished sorting and dispatching them to various polling stations.

Reported by Derrick Wandera, Felix Warom Okello, Patrick Ebong, Denis Edema, George Muron, Polycarp Kalokwera, Joel Kaguta and Alex Ashaba

Gulu
In Gulu, the ongoing voters’ display exercise at the village level recorded a low turn-up too. By 9am different polling stations, had display teams ready but no activity. Other polling stations had verified five voters by midday.

The Gulu Electoral Commission registrar, Mr Benson Obete, said: “We expect the numbers to grow with time and we will accomplish our goal since the exercise is going to run until March 10.”

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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