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ELECTION DAY: Break down of polling day procedures

Voting during the last elections. The EC has outlined the steps to vote MP and President. FILE PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan voters will go through 12 steps before leaving the polling station as they vote for a President and Member of Parliament today, Thursday, January 14 2021.

According to the Electoral Commission, the polling stations will be opened at 7 am in the presence of at least 10 voters, polling officials and agents of each of the candidates.

Upon arrival at the polling station, voters are expected to join a queue and access a hand-washing sanitizing zone.

From here, they will go to the Biometric Voter Verification Kit (BVVK) table for verification. This process involves confirming if the person is of voting age and that their names appear on the voter’s register.

It is after this process that they will be given a ballot paper with a list of presidential candidates. There are eleven candidates in the race this year, the highest number in Uganda’s history.

Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country since 1986, is seeking re-election. Other presidential candidates include opposition leader and former pop-star, 38-year-old Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine of the National Unity Platform, John Katumba, Willy Mayambala, Fred Mwesigye, Henry Tumukunde, Joseph Kabuleta, Nancy Kalembe, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, Mugisha Muntu and Norbert Mao.

With the ballot paper, the voter will proceed to a basin and choose their presidential candidate with either a tick or use a thumbprint and then fold the ballot paper before proceeding to cast it in a sealed ballot box.

This marks the first round of activity.

Counting will be the last activity at the polling stations

Second round, MPs

The second is a repeat of the process and it starts with the polling Assistant (PA) issuing the ballot paper in the presence of polling agents.

The voter will then get a ballot paper with all directly elected members of parliament for that constituency, get to another basin and tick their candidate before folding the ballot paper and casting it in a sealed ballot box.

The voter will then proceed to vote the Woman Member of Parliament at another point within the polling station. Here, the voter will find another polling Assistant with agents of the candidates and receive the last ballot paper for the day on which all candidates contesting for the position will be printed.

With this ballot box, they will again proceed to the basin, tick their candidate and then cast the ballot into the sealed ballot box for Woman Member of Parliament candidates.

The voter will then go to a table where a polling Assistant will be located to sign them out of the polling station. The process ends with indelible ink stained on them before going back to the hand sanitizing and washing centre and getting out of the polling station.

After polling, they can observe at a distance of not less than 200 meters. According to Paul Bukenya, the Electoral Commission spokesperson, to maintain order, voters are expected to leave after casting their ballot.

Doreen Musiime, the Kampala Central Assistant Election Administrator says all polling officials have been trained before their deployment.

However, several voters have expressed ignorance about the voting procedures while some still have no idea about their voter locations. Simon Kaweesi, a voter from Rubaga division says he has never been educated about the voting process.

Sarah Musubika, a resident of Kawempe division says that apart from knowing the voting day for presidents, she does not know much of what will happen thereafter.

The polling station will also publish general procedures for the election day process at polling stations including the setting up and supplying of polling stations. The relevant information includes the hours of operation, lay-out inside the polling station, number of ballot boxes, the flow of voters and necessary supply of voting materials like ballots and indelible ink.

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