Polling officials fail to master how to operate BVVS machine few hours to elections

Several polling officials from different Sub-counties in Rakai District say they didn’t fully understand how to use the Biometric Voter Verification System-BVVS in the two-day’s training they had last week. This comes just two days to the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for Thursday.

The BVVS was introduced to improve the integrity of the electoral process through authentication of voter identity, according to the EC. It basically uses fingerprints to match voter’s details and help the election officer to confirm that the voter is on the register of that polling station.  

The Electoral Commission, through Sarah Nabukeera, the Acting Rakai District Registrar, organised 2-day training at Kasozi secondary school on January 6th and 7th for 520 polling officials to learn how to use the verification system. 

However, the officials including presiding officers, polling assistants, parish and sub-county supervisors say they had only one instructor to show them how the BVVS device  works. Joshua Bwambale, the Kayonza Parish Supervisor in Ddwaniro sub-county, says the trainer had a big load, which he couldn’t handle proficiently.

He says given the limited time, trainer chose to train one group, which he told to train others.  He says the first group never had the skills to train fellow officials.

Patrick Kirembeka, a polling assistant from Kiwololo village in Kagamba sub-county, says the trainer had a big number of people and limited time. He explains that the trainer was too fast while handling different groups leaving behind the majority, especially slow learners.  

Douglas Muhiirwe, a polling assistant from Kansankala sub-county, admits that he did not understand anything because the group that was trained to train them also did not understand how the BVVS works. He attributed it to the registrar who failed to hire more than one trainer to help the officials understand how the device operates.  

Muhiirwe further explains that failure to understand the BVVS device will impede the election exercise.  He appealed to the district Registrar to give them another opportunity to learn the device in the remaining few days to be sure of what to do on Election Day.     

While several people faced a challenge learning the BVVS, Dorah Namayanja, another polling official from Buleebi village, Bugona Parish in Lwamaggwa sub-county, says she clearly understood how it works. She adds that given the knowledge she attained she can work on 30 people in an hour given the stability of the BVVS gadget.    

Sarah Nabukeera, the Acting Rakai District Registrar, told URN that she was yet to receive any complaint from the polling officials.  She promised to contact all sub-county and parish supervisors to identify those who did not understand how the device operates to help them master it before elections.


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