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We are too busy to vote – Kampala residents

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Residents in Kampala are calling for more public holidays during the elections period to enable more people participate in fully in the process.

This follows a remarkably low voter turnout for the elections of district and city chairpersons, mayors and councilors on Wednesday, compared to the numbers that turned up for the presidential and parliamentary elections on January 14.

According to the electoral commission, 57% of the registered voters went to cast the vote for the next president and MPs, but this was also low compared to the 2016 polls which drew 67% turnout.

Despite the register expanding by almost 3 million to more than 18.1 million voters from 15.2 million in 2016, the number of people who cast the vote increased only by 30,500 voters.

There is a persistent trend of elections that follow the presidential and parliamentary polls of attracting fewer voters.

Wednesday was no different as many polling stations featured polling officials waiting for minutes before the next voter turned up to cast a vote.

There were mainly three reasons given by different people as to why the local government elections are not as popular.

Some say people are more interested in the presidential and parliamentary elections because the MP and the president matter more to them.

Others think that when a presidential candidate loses the election, his or her supporters or party members are too demoralized to complete the election cycle.

However, most claimed that it is too costly for people to abandon their jobs every time there is voting, adding that had the day been declared a public holiday, perhaps the turnout would have been higher.

Some polling stations could not open at the designated time because the number of voters required to be around to witness the opening could not be attained in time.

However, independent election observer Crispin Kaheru was happy with the preparedness of the election officials especially the technical personnel deployed to handle any mishap with the biometric verification machines.

He says the low turnout should be expected if the voters have just been through a major and higher-level election.

The next poll is scheduled for Monday 25 for the elections of municipality and city division chairpersons and their councilors.

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