National Politics

KICK – U attributes high numbers of invalid votes to low civic education

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By Naboth Isaac Niwagaba

apearlnews.com

A team of Election observers from Kick Corruption Out Of Uganda Kick – U, has blamed the alarming number of invalid votes in Kigezi Sub-Region on lack of enough Civic Education.

According to a statement released by Juliet Tushemereirwe the Program Officer at Kick- U on Friday evening at their offices in Kirigime Kabale, the   Organization had deployed 30 election observers who visited 114 polling stations in the Kigezi Sub-Region on the 20th of January 2021.

 More  6 roving observers were deployed at  the district tally centers to observe the tallying and final declaration.

The report says over 6000 votes were invalid after the final tallying.

Robert Kakuru the regional coordinator for the Election observers said the problem was lack of enough Civic Education.

He said the masses were not properly educated on the Electoral process and activities.

Low  civic education was also cited as another reason for low voter turn up in Kigezi especially during the local government elections that were held in 20th Jan. 2021.

The report indicated that voter turn up reduced with a bigger margin in local government elections compared to the Presidential and parliamentary elections.

The Kick – U Vice Chairperson Rev. Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda attributed the reduction in the number of voters participating in local government Elections to monetization of politics.

 He said the use of a lot of money in the presidential and parliamentary elections affected the local government Elections

“There was a lot of voter bribery, and less money was used because the local government politicians did not have large sums of money to spend”

Other issues pointed out in the press statement by Kick – U include chaos and obstruction of the Electoral activities, with cases in point in Kisoro and Rukiga District, failure to follow the Covid -19 standard operating procedures, among others.

KICK-U calls for more civic education and investigation into matters that led to electoral violence at different polling stations.

 KICK-U revealed that the number of voters turning up for the remaining local government elections may reduce further.

Below is the full statement.

KICK CORRUPTION OUT OF UGANDA
KIRIGIME WARD, SOUTHERN DIVISION,
KABALE MUNICIPALITY.
P.O. BOX 445, KABALE.
+256-702014429
kigezianticorruption@yahoo.com/kickcorruption.ug@gmail.com
FACILITATING THE EMPOWEREMENT OF COMMUNITIES IN ORDER TO MAKE THEM ACT INDEPENDENTLY,
PARTICIPATING IN SOCIETY PROCESSES AND ADVOCATE FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS
Polling administration
All our observers were stationed at the 30 polling stations by 6:30am but only twelve had polling
officials present. While at 15 polling stations, voting commenced between 8-9am, 4 polling
stations before 8:00am and 11 polling stations, voting started between 9-10am.
Out of all the 114 polling stations visited, the Biometric Voter Verification Kit (BVVK) was
available and functional in 103. Other voting materials which include the ink pad, ballot boxes,
register among others were verified and present.
Party agents and accredited observers also present in the observed polling stations.
At 12 of the 30 polling stations, standard operating procedures for the prevention of the spread of
COVID-19 were not strictly followed.
Voting Process
In general, the voting process went swiftly at 114 polling stations that KICK-U observers visited
during the day.
At all the polling stations, the voting basins had been set up to ensure secrecy and no cases of
ballot stuffing were recorded.
The voter turnout was generally low compared to the presidential and parliamentary elections
held on 14th of January 2021. And this may not be unconnected with the fact that the voting day
for 20th of January was not declared a public holiday and being the middle of the week, most
people had gone back to their respective workplaces.
Counting and Declaration of Results
KICK-U observers did not note any issues about the counting of votes since it was done in the
open at all the polling stations.
At the polling stations monitored by KICK-U observers, the votes were declared at the polling
stations and the declaration forms signed.
KICK-U observers also reported that the situation after the declaration of the results was
peaceful outside the polling stations where they had observed and the results were transferred to
the District Tally Centers.
Tallying Process
The tallying process in the tally centers of Kanungu, Rubanda, Rukungiri and Kabale were
relatively peaceful.
However, in Kisoro District, there was a commotion when Annet Kansiime, a candidate for
female councilor, was allegedly found stuffing ballots and when her opponent was declared the
winner, she rejected the results; which led to a fight between rival supporters. Relatedly, fighting
erupted between rival groups at Rukiga district tally center which led to the KICK-U observer
abandoning the tally center observation due to security concerns.
FACILITATING THE EMPOWEREMENT OF COMMUNITIES IN ORDER TO MAKE THEM ACT INDEPENDENTLY,
PARTICIPATING IN SOCIETY PROCESSES AND ADVOCATE FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS
There was also a shooting involving polling constables at the Rukiga Tally center which resulted
in the death of one person; identified as Constable Abaho Felix.
The tallying process and declaration of the final winners was done and followed through
according to the guidelines of the Electoral Commission.
Conclusions
In the lead up to the January 25 and February 3 electoral events, KICK-U issues the following
short term recommendations:
The voter education should be given a priority by election stakeholders like the Electoral
Commission, civil society organizations, media and other relevant development partners given
the high number of invalid votes (3700 votes) in the Kigezi sub-region as reported by the
Electoral Commission.
The Electoral Commission should implement the election laws, policies and guidelines
especially as they relate to ensuring that adequate materials are deployed to polling stations in a
timely manner and the COVID-19 SOPs are fully complied with in the subsequent elections.
Government should coordinate its agencies, especially security forces and the EC that support
the electoral process in a manner that operates within the existing legal frameworks. KICK-U calls
on citizens to consider increased participation in the civic process towards election of their
leaders by ensuring to register and vote in subsequent elections.
KICK-U will continue to observe the forthcoming local government elections scheduled for 25th
January and 3rd February 2021 and calls upon all the electorates to participate in the scheduled
elections.
KICK-U also has a total of 30 long term observers who have been observing the post-election
period since January 16th
. Their findings will be incorporated in the final report that will be
shared at the end of the elections.
Robert Byamugisha Kakuru
Executive Director
Tel: +256 782 472 880
Email: robert.kb@kick-u.org