Big Story: Two Months to Election, EC Added 440,000 Voters on Register

The Electoral Commission-EC added 445, 076 voters to the national voter’s register three months to the January 14th presidential and parliamentary elections, according to the statics from the Commission. In a statement issued on September 17th, 2020, EC said there were 17,658,527 voters.   

However, the number increased to 18,103,603 voters by November, a difference of 445,076 voters. The Commission didn’t communicate the change in the number of voters. The addition of the voters on the national register came almost a year after the completion of the national voter’s register update exercise.

The process of registration of new voters and the transfer of voter location stopped on December 11th, 2019.  The EC Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama says these were voters whose eligibility had been contested. For instance, he says some people were thought to have left the areas but later surfaced while some were even candidates in the same areas.

He says the Commission decided to add them on the register, given that the Biometric Voter Verification and voter register with coloured photos would be used to prove the authenticity of the voters on voting day.     

This, Byakabama says was meant to avoid scenarios where people turn up to vote on election day but find that their names aren’t on the register.   “To me, that is not a problem,” he says. Byakabama says only 10.7 million voters participated in the election out of the 18.1 million voters on the national register. Therefore, the turn up wasn’t a result of “inflated register.”   

What is unclear is the location of these voters. There are tens of polling stations in Kazo, Kiruhura and Isingiro districts that registered 100 percent voter turnout. And president Museveni scored 100 percent at many of these polling stations.   

For instance, the president scored 100 percent at 143 polling stations in Kiruhura—his home district, 113 polling stations in Kazo district, which was curved out of Kiruhura two years ago. He also scored 100 percent at 92 polling stations in Isingiro district.  

Tens of these polling stations also registered 100 percent voter turnout; 60 polling station stations in Kiruhura and 36 in Kazo registered 100 percent voter turnout. Isingiro had the highest number of polling stations—142—that recorded 100 percent voter turnout.  

Independent Election Observer, Crispy Kaheru says he sought for an explanation from the Electoral Commission before Election Day why the number of voters suddenly went up and was given a technical explanation that some electoral activities such as completion of work by parish tribunals that recommend who to remove, transfer or add to the register were disrupted by the nationwide lockdown in March 2020.    

“What Electoral Commission didn’t do was to come out and explain this technical process. They kept saying they would explain but didn’t do it,” Kaheru said. “I understand it but an ordinary Ugandan doesn’t.”    

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