The Chairman Electoral Commission, Justice Simon Byabakama has said that the EC will liaise with NIRA and local council leaders to ensure Ugandans who do not possess National Identity Cards will be registered to vote provided they prove they are eligible voters.
Byabakama said this while speaking to reporters in Kamwokya, Kampala on Thursday, on the sidelines of the launch of the exercise to update the voters’ register.
The National Identity Card is the primary requirement for any eligible voter to cast their ballot, according to the electoral body.
However there have been concerns that Ugandans including students who are yet to receive their IDs could be disenfranchised in the 2021 elections. The exercise to update the voter register ends on December 11 as per the EC roadmap.
The EC Chairman said those without IDs will be added on the register only after they have proved to authorities that they are 18 years of age and Ugandan nationals.
“We know there are Ugandans who don’t have IDs. And there are Ugandans who have clocked 18 years of age even today,” Byabakama said.
“So, when you go to the update centre and tell them you are Ugandan and you need to be registered to vote, they will give you a form which you will fill and take to the LC 1 Chairman”.
The form is to be filled with the details of the voter including names, parents’ details and place of birth, he said.
The Local Council (LC) Chairman will then use information to ascertain whether the individual is indeed a Ugandan citizen based on the parents’ information.
“If your parents were registered and they are Ugadan citizens, it means you are also Ugandan. So we are not saying those without IDs can’t vote”.
He added that students who registered under the Learners Project but don’t possess either an ID or the National Identification Number (NIN), will also be allowed to vote, provided they prove their citizenship.
“Some students got IDs other did not. The update officials will verify their information in the NIRA database to see whether their details are there. Alternatively, they can prove that they are Ugandans by furnishing details of their parents”.
“As Electotal Commission, we don’t want to disenfranchise any Ugandans. It is every eligible Ugandan’s right to get registered and vote, so they can choose their leaders”.
Byabakama explained that the Electoral Commission does not wish to make the electoral process costly for Ugandans.
He said he understands that referring students back to their schools to get NIN details as reports say, is an inconvenience given that some students study from far while others are already in their homes.
Concerning individuals who registered with NIRA but are yet to get their National Identity Cards, Byabakama said EC is going to discuss with NIRA to see that the IDs which are ready are availed at the parish update centres for collection.
Byabakama appealed to Ugandans to participate in the voter update exercise, so as not to complain at the last minute.
“An election isn’t an event. It is a process. Although we still have a year to go (2021 elections), we have to prepare so that we inform the citizens to be aware and participate”.
He said the preparatory exercises seek to ensure the 2021 elections are peaceful and credible.
“Do not come at the tail end of the process and say ‘It is my right to vote’ when you did not participate in ensuring your name is on the register or transfering your polling station”