Electoral Commission has rejected calls by legislators to extend the registration deadline for voters in the lower local council polls. In August, Electoral Commission released a roadmap for the compilation of the register for voters for the village, parish, Sub county, town council, municipal, Division and district levels.
According to the roadmap, the registration of voters started on October 26th and ended on October 30th, 2017. The elections are scheduled to take place on November 14, 2017 in over 5000 villages countrywide. However, there are concerns that many people missed on the exercise prompting some legislators to request the Commission to extend the exercise.
On Wednesday, legislators on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chaired by West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth-Oboth, asked the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama to consider extending the registration exercise.
The MPs argued that the five days provided for the voter registration and another two for the voter register display were inadequate. Muhammad Nsereko, the Kampala Central MP, said the days allocated for the exercise rendered about one million students of voting age ineligible to stand or vote in the upcoming elections.
“You should extend the time for registration and display of voter’s register; and do more voter education or we shall have more conflicts during the election period,” Nsereko said.
Medard Lubega Ssegona, the Busiro East MP wondered whether the Commission had conducted enough voter education ahead of the elections.
Justice Byabakama rejected the request to extend the voter registration exercise, saying it would cost the Commission between Shillings 600 million and 1 Billion, which they don’t have.
He said that extending the voter registration may be a good option but it has other ramifications, which the Commission can’t handle.
On voter education, Justice Byabakama said the EC was using radio programs to inform people about the elections and hope they will do more civic education ahead of the 2021 elections.
He also said that students were eligible to register in the villages around their schools for purposes of the election. He however, noted that the boundaries of some villages and other administrative units are not well demarcated, but hastened to add that this lies squarely with the Local Government ministry.
On Monday, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party also called for the extension of the deadline for registering voters for the lower local council polls. Paul Mwiru, the Deputy FDC Party spokesperson, said they have observed that only a few people have registered for the polls.