Voters need civic education

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Electoral Commission and Police officers man elections in Mukono July 11, 2018. (PHOTO: STEPHEN WANDERA)

BY CHARITY AHIMBISIBWE

NSAMBYA – Uganda has held five elections (1996, 2001,2006, 2011,2016 ) since the promulgation of the 1995 Uganda Constitution. The 2021 general election will be the 6th elections since the 1995 constitution that stipulated free and fair elections came into force. Never once did Uganda hold elections without any form of voter education at the time of a voter register update as is the case with the 2021 election.

All the last five elections Uganda has held have returned one of the biggest problems with the elections as being a lack of sustained Civic and voter education. It is one of the key governance challenges Uganda currently faces. According to the 2016 UBOS statistics; Uganda has a population of 39.6 million people in 2019. And the Electoral commission in a press statement today, stated that there are estimated 16,435,315 voters, of these according to CCEDU projections only a poultry 5,213,400 voters in urban areas have accessed information that the voter register update has started.

The Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has been engaging the Electoral Commission in discussions over the need for Voter Education ahead of the Voter Update process, the Commission intimated that they would hold press conferences across the regions, but CCEDU insisted that press conferences alone were not sufficient to disseminate the information especially to rural voters.

The commission then revealed that the budget for voter education is insufficient to carry out a robust voter education campaign ahead of the exercise and yet according to the roadmap the exercise has to start.

CCEDU has also been holding conversations with universities across the country and its civil society members about this important process. CCEDU has further implored its over 850 civil society organisations to disseminate the information the electoral commission put out reently.

In this statement; CCEDU implores the public and all radio, TV and online media to take it upon themselves to disseminate widely the information that the voter update process has started and encourage every Ugandan who is 18 years of age to go and update their details on the register.
The key issues the public should pay attention to are;.

The number of polling stations in your locality and the number of voters that turn up for the update at each of those polling stations.
It is important to know the polling station at which you will cast your vote.
Also because you were on the register before, does not guarantee your name on the new register, therefore, GO to your polling station and update your details.

Spread this message to every voter in Uganda. Article 59 guarantees your right to vote. It starts with your name on the register. The exercise closes on December 11, 2019, but you do not have to wait for the closing day.

For God and My Country.
Charity Ahimbisibwe is the spokesperson of CEDU

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