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Youth coalition outlines recommendations for improving electoral process

Martin Wanzala (left) speaking to journalists while releasing the statement in Kampala.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Youth election observation mission for the 2021 general elections have called on the Independent Electoral Commission to make certain things right for the country to hold future events better.

In a statement released recently, the coalition observed human rights violations by security agencies, delays in delivery of voting materials, little consideration for special interest groups like people with disabilities, improper printing of voting materials, hiking of media space costs due to COVID-19 pandemic standard operating procedures, internet shutdown and more as the irregularities before, during and after election day.

As a result, the group wants the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure adequate training for electoral staff on the polling procedure including the audit of materials delivered, set up of the polling station. This would ensure secrecy and easy access to people with disabilities.

Improve the rollout of voter education across the country for voters to know how to use the ballot paper, how to fold it, and to understand that they can return a ballot paper in case they made a mistake while making their choice.

The group is also calling for the revision of the law to allow for the set up of online system for eligible voters to update their voting particulars using an easily supportive mechanism at any time before the finalization of the register.

It is also calling on the electoral commission to ensure the packing of materials for every polling station is in future done more effectively and labelled more correctly to avoid delivery of wrong materials to polling stations, which causes delays in starting the voting exercise.

The other recommendation is to ensure that ballot papers are printed with the right symbols ascribed to the right candidate.

The group also wants the IEC to re-evaluate the accreditation process for observers both local and international including the media which this time around came with lots of delays.

It is also calling on the IEC to use church events, community notice boards to publicise the re-organisation, creation, renaming, splitting, rationalization of polling stations.

For the security apparatus, the youth coalition say, it has to be professional while executing their duties and remain impartial. It also says, they have to work with all election stakeholders to deal with electoral incidents by taking appropriate legal measures to deal with situations.

For the legislature, the coalition wants it to consider legal reforms to include early voting categories of citizens such as election administration staff, medical staff, security personnel and the media.

The youth group also wants timely funding of election activities since an election is not an event but a process that requires adequate preparation and planning.

The group gathered their findings in the five districts of Bukwo, Mukono, Wakiso, Bukedea and Iganga.

Martin Wanzala, the executive director of African Youth Development Link, said the findings were released within the lawful timeframe of six months after the electoral process. The Youth coalition deployed 150 election observers for this exercise.

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