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Govt should make voting compulsory

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th July 2013 02:31 PM

The Electoral Commission (EC) recently launched a strategic plan in preparation for a smoother 2016. All Ugandans who cherish peaceful adult suffrage were pleased with the initiative, which is a result of pressure from stakeholders and self-rediscovery within the establishment, desiring an improve

By Robert Atuhairwe

The Electoral Commission (EC) recently launched a strategic plan in preparation for a smoother 2016.  All Ugandans who cherish peaceful adult suffrage were pleased with the initiative, which is a result of pressure from stakeholders and self-rediscovery within the establishment, desiring an improvement from previous exercises.
 
It is long since the Commission received universal commendation for its work. As a matter of fact, since its founding, the EC has always been vilified by mostly losers for failure to conduct impeccable elections. Even the courts raise their voices as such when petitioned to arbitrate in controversies arising. Anyway, elections will never be 100% free and fair.
 
Now, in the new roadmap chatted by the EC, a very essential aspect was left out possibly because nobody has ever thought of it in relation to lending greater credibility to elections in Uganda. That is the aspect of numbers, and in particular, mass participation by all citizens, at and above the age of consent.
 
The reason every election outcome is challenged either through the courts of law or condemnable street riots and disobedience to elected authority is simply because a large number of Ugandans don’t make use of their right to vote when it matters most.
 
They abstain or boycott, some, at will. This tendency is too bad for a developing country. We can’t afford it. Citizens who don’t pay attention to vital events in the life of their country are traitorous. This spirit is responsible for our underdevelopment since we are ever off-topic, never doing the right thing at the right time. Every country deserves a timetable, adhered to stringently.
 
I remember hearing that in 2011; only 48% of registered voters actually cast their ballot. Calculated against the total number of eligible citizens, it would go lower. A big “thank you” to all those who registered, and went on to tick their preferred candidates. These are true patriots.
 
Most voters in flesh and bone tend to abide by electoral outcomes, even begrudgingly. They respect their choices and respect those of others because, intrinsically, that is how it should be. It is the “stay-aways” who cynically protest and cause post-election mayhem which is an insult to the integrity of those who comply with standard practices. 
 
By dodging to vote, the boycotters cheat themselves of a right to determine who should lead them. They, therefore, have less right to demand for services from whoever is elected because the winner(s) is (are) really not accountable to them. Of course they pay taxes but voters who pay taxes have a double right. 
 
To make elected leaders absolutely accountable to the masses, the Government should make voting compulsory and abstention there of punishable by law. In the proposed enactment, every Ugandan who makes the age of 18 must dully register as a voter and thereafter, provide proof of participation.
 
Failing thus, the law is applied the way it is with such deviants as tax evaders and drivers without permits. Voting is a small price that any citizen should pay without thinking twice. 
 
There is evidence that non-voters tend to be critical at every stage as they claim to be superior to all candidates while at the same time have no civic allegiance to anyone.
 
Their problem is usually not lack of judgment but premeditated shunning of their country. This means they can be swayed by any influence including the subversive. They are also mostly like to be irresponsible, sabotage the economy through poor workmanship and corruption and such other criminal tendencies. 
 
When all adults register to vote and do so, we shall have insulated the electoral process from many of the usual shortcomings since more eyes will scrutinise the entire process. Results declared will also be decisive. More people will have made their statement unlike today when a small fraction of the population takes the mantle in their hands.
 
MPs should to take up this matter through a motion in Parliament and see to its successful execution and inking in the law. All sides to the political game stand to gain from this voting-for-all campaign. 
 
The author is a National Media Liaison Officer 

Govt should make voting compulsory

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