The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has just completed a baseline assessment of voter education ahead of the 2021 Election in the Eastern Region in the districts of Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli, Bugembe, Idudi, Namutumba, Tirinyi, Kadama, Budaka, Mbale and Soroti and established that there is hardly any voter information reaching the voters.
In these regions, some voters were uncertain about the voting dates for the various political offices. Some sections of the electorate particularly the illiterate in Mayuge, Iganga, Bugweri, Budaka and some areas of Jinja district only knew of four of the 11 presidential candidates. In all the places visited the citizens did not know about the special interest Group elections and the dates on which the MPS for Elders, Youth, workers, Army will be elected. In all the areas covered the voters did not even know when the election of councillors would take place.
Most of the voters in the areas assessed do not understand the electoral college system and how it is set up. Electoral colleges are the people who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organisations, political parties, or entities. Each is represented by a particular number of electors or votes weighted by the Electoral Commission. The Constitution in articles 1 and 59 guarantees rights for a voter to attain information and participate in electoral processes. This right to access information is supposed to be guaranteed by the Electoral Commission in Article 61, which mandates the EC to educate voters and come up with a voter’s programme that ensures dissemination of information.
Having been accredited to carry out voter education, CCEDU in collaboration with its partner NICE-U, supported by UN-WOMEN has decided to popularise its campaign Mulembe Gwa Digital, Beera Mu Class in the three universities GULU, Makerere and Mukono plus their surrounding communities.
CCEDU in partnership with the Electoral Commission and UN Women through this voter mobilisation campaign aim to advocate for and promote integrity, transparency and increase civic duty of Ugandans in electoral processes. CCEDU’s vision is a Uganda in which the principles and practices of electoral democracy are respected and upheld. Guided by the principles of transparency; accountability of electoral systems; respect for human and civic rights; tolerance; gender equity and equal opportunity; non-partisan citizen participation, CCEDU will continue to put out voter education messages on radio, through the phones, give out fliers in communities and educate the voter on how to participate in the election.
Whereas it is commendable that the Electoral Commission has put out voter education vans and banners ahead of the 2021 Elections, more efforts are needed to reach the 17.7 million voters ahead of the January 14, 2021 electoral process. It is 15 days to go and CCEDU/NICE-U and UN-WOMEN are mobilising Ugandans to equally mobilise their peers to participate, engage and vote ahead of the 2021. CCEDU is teaching voters on how to handle ballot papers on polling day and how to cast them.
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