On October 17, 2019, the Electoral Commission released a press statement explaining the modalities of the voters' register update. It is reproduced below.
Verification of the National Voters' Register and Identification of Persons with Disability (PWDs) at the Village Level, 21st- 28th October 2019-10-17
Dear esteemed members of the press, it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you to this press briefing. Today the Commission will brief you on a national electoral activity, namely, the Verification of the National Voters' Register and the Identification of Persons with Disability (PWDs) at the Village Level, as follows:
B. Village Verification of the National Voters' Register (NVR)
The Commission will conduct verification of the National Voters' Register (NVR) at village level. The Commission has encountered complaints of ineligible voters appearing on the Voters Register in the concluded by-elections and General Elections. To address these complaints therefore, the Electoral Commission devised a strategy for verification of the voters on the register using the Village Councils.
This strategy has been piloted in some of the recently-concluded by-elections and it has proved very effective. This strategy gives an opportunity for the public to scrutinize the voters on the Register and identify the ineligible voters for appropriate action; hence the decision to use it during the update of the NVR.
The following factors were considered;
i) The creation of the National Registration Identification Authority (NIRA) as a Statutory Authority responsible for registration of citizens, birth and death, made it a requirement to provide a Certificate of Death, as evidence in order to remove particulars of the dead from the National Voters' Register. Owing to various constraints, NIRA has not been able to register deaths that occur across the country. Consequently, the National Voters' Register is growing with this category of (dead) ineligible voters.
ii) Further to the above, voters have continued to move from place to place due to various factors, without taking steps to transfer their polling stations. In so doing, they leave their previous polling stations bloated.
iii) The creation of Administrative Units has brought forth a high cost of maintaining a stable National Voters' Register and consequently a higher cost to election administration altogether.
These above mentioned factors directly impact on the quality of the National Voters' Register, which need to be urgently addressed.
I would like to assert that a credible National Voters' Register is a cornerstone for conducting fair and successful elections. It is, therefore, imperative that we continue to explore ways for immediate and innovative solutions to the above challenges.
C. What the Verification and Identification Exercise Entails
The cleaning of the National Voters' Registers at village level (or verification of the National Voters' Register) will involve convening Village Council meetings to be presided over by the Village Chairperson.
A Village Council meeting is a gathering of residents mobilized by the Local Council (LC.I) under the leadership of the Village Chairperson for purposes of addressing a particular village issue. The verification of the National Voters' Register for the village and Identification of Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the village will be the main issue which the meeting should address.
Please note that during the verification of the National Voters' Registers at the Village level, the Electoral Commission will compile the lists of PWDs identified by the Village Councils. The identification of PWDs right from the village level is important for compiling registers needed for elections involving members of the Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
The Parish Supervisor shall serve as the verification official during the Village Council meeting, which will give priority to the agenda item: Verification of Voters and Identification of Persons with Disability.
The particulars of voters in a given village shall be extracted from the National Voters' Register and availed to the meeting, by the EC Parish Supervisor who is also the Verification Official.
The verification official shall guide the meeting through a roll call session to ascertain particulars of those voters which should be removed from the National Voters' Register (NVR).
The reasons for the removal are those that would ordinarily be spelt out in the guidelines for the Display exercise. These include the dead, those voters who have left the area and non-citizens.
The information gathered during the meeting shall be compiled and submitted for onward processing through the Commissions' established channels.
D. Programme for Village Verification, Update of the National Voters Register (NVR) and Compilation of Registers for Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
i) The briefing of Sub-county Supervisors on verification of the National Voters Register (NVR) was conducted on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at the districts;
ii) The briefing of Parish Supervisors and Village Chairpersons on verification of the National Voters Register (NVR) will be conducted today, Thursday, October 17, 2019 at the sub-county level.
iii) The mobilization of village residents to turn up to participate in the village level verification of the National Voters' Register will be carried out for a period of three (3) days from Friday, October 18, 2019 to Sunday, October 20, 2019.
iv) Village Council meetings to verify the National Voters' Register and Identify Persons with Disability (PWDs) will be held in each village within the parish/ward on separate days for a period of eight (8) days from Monday October 21, 2019 to Monday, October 28, 2019.
v) The General Update of the National Voters Register and compilation of Registers for Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will commence on Monday the21st November, 2019 and end on Wednesday, 11th December, 2019.
These activities will be conducted by the district staff comprised of the District Registrars, Assistant District Registrars, Sub county Supervisors and Parish Supervisors. The Regional Elections Officers and Headquarter staff will monitor and provide support supervision to the exercise. The EC staff shall work hand in hand with NIRA officials in this exercise.
The Electoral Commission appeals to all stakeholders in the electoral process to participate in this important exercise and in accordance with the issued guidelines.
Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon
Chairperson, Electoral Commission