The Electoral Commission (EC) has kicked off voter education exercise across the country in a bid to increase citizens’ awareness about rights, participation in campaigns and polling activities for the 2020/2021 General Election.
The EC on Wednesday dispatched 15 outside broadcast trucks and two buses to six regions across the country to air out messages that will sensitise the masses from their different localities without necessarily gathering in one place.
According to the arrangement, three trucks will spread messages in the central region and Kampala, three others will go to the south western and mid-west, Albertine region and West Nile region will each have two while northern and Karamoja region will have three.
The eastern comprising of Busoga, Bugisu and Sebei will have three trucks
Mr Charles Mashate, the head of voter education and training at the EC, explained that the trucks and buses equipped with public address systems and screens with messages have been decorated to draw people’s attention wherever they will traverse throughout the country to pass on voter messages.
“We want to reach out to cities, trading centres, industrial parks, regions, towns and highway centres with voter education messages in the respective languages and with this, we expect that people will change their attitude towards campaigns, respect candidates and participate in the voting processes,” said Mr Mashate.
He added that the voter education is in line with the Covid-19 prevention Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Mr Mashate said the information re corded seeks to persuade citizens to participate in campaign activities, respect candidates and turn out on the polling day.
“Between today and January 12 next year, the trucks will be in the field. We encourage the public to listen to the messages,” he said.
The electoral body revealed that the voter education exercise seeks to beef up already existing structures where they have been sensitising the population through media announcements, billboards and social media outlets.
The EC initiative comes after an analysis that showed that the number of Ugandans registering to vote in national elections has been rising in the last 20 years, but 30 per cent of them have persistently not turned up on polling day to cast their vote.
According to the Daily Monitor analysis, the voter turnout has continued to decline from 72.9 per cent in 1996 with the northern and central regions registering the highest number of people who don’t vote.
From 1996, through 2006 to 2016 election cycles, the voter turnout has been consistently declining, according to data from Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), an election monitoring and civic education non-governmental organisation.
While flagging off the trucks, the EC acting secretary, Mr Richard Baabo Kamugisha, described the voter education exercise as a strategy to increase voter participation in the polling activities.
“We want to create visibility and enhance public participation by way of reaching out to the masses with messages. We have done a number of activities through the media and we believe that the trucks will complement our efforts,” he said.
He explained that the trucks and buses have been equipped with facilities to broadcast the messages to the people simultaneously without distortions and that the public will be able to receive information without risk of contracting Covid-19.