Umar Kiyimba the Electoral Commission officer in charge Elgon responds to questions during the meeting at Wash and Wills Hotel while Peninah Sekabembe, the EC principal election officer looks on.

Umar Kiyimba the Electoral Commission officer in charge Elgon responds to questions during the meeting at Wash and Wills Hotel while Peninah Sekabembe, the EC principal election officer looks on.

Umar Kiyimba, the electoral commission officer in charge of Elgon region explained that the main requirement will be the existence of the voter?s name on the polling registers rather than the national identity card.

?Most of the data from the national identity card process was collected from the national polling register. So as long as a person?s name is on the polling register, they will be eligible for voting irrespective of whether they have the national identity card or not,? Kiyimba explained.

Kiyimba was responding to concerns from Joseph Okwakao, the Kween Resident District Commissioner during a regional meeting between the commission and officials from Elgon Bukedi and Sebei region on the ongoing preparatory processes ahead forthcoming elections. The meeting was held at Wash and Wills Hotel in Mbale district.

Okwakao had said with elections drawing closer, the delay in the distribution of IDs is already taking a toll on the electorate as some are worried about being able to vote without them.

To create a credible source of identification among citizens, the Uganda Government last year intensified the process of registering citizens from ages 16 for national identity cards. The IDs were partly an initiative to ease identification of genuine electorate to weed out allegations that riddled previous polls of massive voting by non-citizens.

Over 15 million people registered for the cards, according to the internal affairs ministry. From the onset of the exercise, senior Government officials including Badru Kiggundu, the commission chairperson, had stated that without the national identity card, one would not be eligible for voting.

The Government is currently distributing the identity cards in 72 districts of the total 112 in the country, before the rollout to the rest of the country.

However, the process has had its fair share of setbacks ranging from the slow response from citizens to pick up their IDs to technical mistakes in the already printed IDs.

?Whereas other details on my ID are okay, the date of birth is wrong. I indicated during registration that I was born in 1988 but the birth date on the ID reads 1976. I need to contest for Kotido district youth councillorship seat but the ID makes me ineligible since contestants for the seat must be below 30 years. I returned it for correction,? complained Peter Ekapel, a youth aspirant.

But Kiyimba explained that rectifying such blunders takes a while since the focus is currently on mass distribution of the existing identity cards.

He, however, noted that there would be no fraud in the forthcoming polls as the commission will use the biometric system to avoid polling irregularities.

By Daniel Edyegu, The New Vision

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