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National IDs not essential for 2021 polls- Electoral Commission

Electoral Commission Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | All voters must get their details updated in the National Voters Register as a guarantee that they participate in the 2021 general elections. The call was made this morning by the Electoral Commission Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, saying that owning a National Identity Card, without records on the voter’s register, is insufficient.

He says the Electoral Commission is currently conducting a General Update of the National Voters’ Register, to enable potential voters to confirm their intention to participate in the elections, and where they intend to vote from. The General Update exercise which started on Thursday, November 21, will continue until Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

Mugenyi said that even as there is a craze by politicians encouraging their supporters to pick National Identity Cards, these will be rejected at polling stations if the holders’ names don’t appear on the register.

Justice Byabakama told journalists in Kampala this morning that during this period, the Commission will register eligible Ugandan voters, who are not yet registered, transfer individuals who wish to transfer to new voting locations, and assign polling stations for all learners who were registered under the Learners Project in 2017 and have since attained voting age.

He says that existing voters will not make changes to their age or include additional names. What is only acceptable are corrections relating to photo mismatches, gender and names that don’t correlate with what appears on the register.

However, Justice Byabakama said that even though the National ID will not determine the ability to vote, the commission is in talks with the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) to bring services of issuing cards closer to the people at the parish level. He says the EC has received complaints about the hurdles people go through to have their cards replaced or registered.

For the on-going update exercise that goes into the second week, the chairman says they are not yet aware of how many extra voters have been added to the already existing 16 million voters.

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