UG Polls: Candidates oppose EC ban on cameras, smartphones at polling stations

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A cross-section of political Candidates in Ankole region has opposed the move by the Electoral Commission to ban the use of cameras and smartphones within polling stations.  It had earlier been reported that the Electoral Commission had banned the use of cameras and smartphones in the precincts of polling stations across the country. 

However, Justice Simon Byabakama, the chairman of the Electoral Commission clarified that the ban only targeted the gazetted polling area, and that it was aimed at ensuring the sanctity of the secret ballot.    

But Manzi Munanura, a parliamentary candidate in Mbarara City South says that the pronouncement is a bad move and could frustrate the need for transparency during elections.    

He says his team planned to have all his agents equipped with smartphones to capture events of the day. He, however, hastens to add that the ban raises questions on the integrity of the process and resurfaces fears of intended vote-rigging.

Rita Atukwasa Bwahika, an Independent Candidate for the Mbarara city parliamentary seat says her biggest worry is the safety of the ballot, adding that having such gadgets in place tantamount to having a polling agent. She adds that it is unfortunate that gadgets are banned in the digital era, where even the EC is encouraging virtual campaigns, virtual activities, and less human to human interactions.  

Wilberforce Ahimbisibwe Ongom, a Parliamentary Candidate in Rwampara County, says that cameras are an important tool to capture evidence which might be very useful for those who would wish to challenge the process. He adds that the ban is a violation of rights enshrined in the constitution. 

The Forum for Democratic Party (FDC) has written to the Electoral Commission asking to be provided with the law that was followed to ban the use of Cameras and Phones at Polling stations.