Electoral Commission Acknolwedges Voter Education Shortfalls

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The Electoral Commission (EC) has acknowledged that it indeed failed to conduct adequate voter education ahead of the recent general election. But, the EC chairman Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi says that their program was partly affected by the restrictions in movement and on gatherings, that came with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Byabakama told the Human Rights Commitee of Parliament that although the election was a success on their part, the entire process was conducted amidst limitations, which could not allow them to reach Ugandans across the country. During the time, which was planned for voter education, gatherings were limited to only 70 people and later adjusted to accommodate 200 people. 

Byabakama was responding to concerns from committee chairperson Agnes Taaka Wejuli that the lack of sensitization and voter education, amongst Ugandans, greatly affected voter turn out and participation in the election of the President, Parliamentary and Local government leaders. She adds that several cases of violence can also be traced to the absence of voter education.

Justice Byabakama says that although the commission made efforts to sensitize the public, this was through virtual platforms like the media. He added that civic education for the Ugandan population required the commission to meet the people physically and use demonstrations for emphasis.

The Acting Secretary  of the Electoral Commission Leonard Mulekwa said that this problem can only be solved by enhancing civic education.

The committee also tasked the commission to explain why some of the guards attached to the Presidential candidates were not facilitated, forcing them to go hungry for days. But the commission said that each officer was rightfully facilitated with at least 70,000 a day, although at some point, there was a challenge when some officers were changed from a Presidential candidate’s camp.

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