EC’s banning of recording devices at polling stations is aimed at rigging votes- Fr Gaetano
By Richard Akandwanaho
The vice Chairperson of Kick Corruption out of Uganda Rev Fr Gaetano Batanyenda has said that the Electoral Commission’s banning of all recording devices at polling station is aimed at rigging this Thursday’s elections.
Initially, the Electoral Commission said that phones are allowed at polling stations but they must not be used for recording purposes or taking photographs inside the polling stations which is the cordoned off area. Uganda’s Electoral Commission later eased restrictions on use of cameras and other recording devices at polling stations on Election Day.
Contentious among these was the directive that voters will not be allowed to remain at polling stations after voting to witness the vote counting and a ban of cameras and selfies at the polling stations. The ban on cameras was strangely extended to journalists as well.
Opposition political parties however questioned the legality of the directives which they say may discredit the election. Yesterday, in a press statement issued on the 9th of January and signed by Justice Byabakama, the Electoral Commission said it has noted the concerns expressed by various stakeholders over the restriction of use of cameras and other recording devices.
In the statement, the Electoral Commission said it will allow phones at polling stations but they must not be used for recording purposes or taking photographs inside the polling stations which is the cordoned off area. The EC also banned voters from displaying their choice of candidate by taking a photo or video of their marked ballot papers.
This measure, the EC says is in line with Article 68(1) of the constitution which provides for a secret ballot in presidential and parliamentary elections. The Electoral Commission has however permitted a voter or a candidate’s agent to take photographs or recordings of the vote counting process and take photographs or record the issued declaration of results form.
Speaking during a press conference today at Kitanga Catholic parish in Rukiga district, Fr Batanyenda said the ban of recording devices was intended at giving a go ahead to the NRM government to rig votes.
Fr Batanyenda noted that if the Electoral Commission was not compromised and believed that the election is going to be fair and transparent, it would have allowed recording of audios and videos at polling stations.
Fr Gaetano added that however much the Electoral Commission remains adamant on the issue of barring voters from staying at polling stations after casting their vote, voters should remain at polling stations after voting in order to witness vote counting and tallying.