Failed biometric machines, open boxes hang over poll

15Jan 2021
The Guardian
Failed biometric machines, open boxes hang over poll

​​​​​​​UGANDANS yesterday turned out in big numbers at polling stations all over the country to choose their next president and parliamentary representatives for the next five years.

However, many polling stations in the capital Kampala and metropolitan areas experienced glitches as polling materials arrived late, reported the Monitor.

A reporter at Kyengombe park yard polling station in Rubaga South said that by 7.30am, no polling agent had arrived but long lines of voters had already formed.

At Lugala Namungona Kigobe polling station, voters had already come in big numbers by 7am but polling material were yet to be brought.

Fatuma Nakawunga, an assistant at the polling station, said that the Electoral Commission (EC) had assured them that polling material would be available as early as 6am but they were also not sure what was happening, meanwhile as new polling stations caused confusion.

In Makindye division, there was confusion after some voters failed to locate where to vote from. Many had not picked their voter location slips and therefore did not know where to vote from. The slips indicate where one is assigned to vote.

In Kiyembe Zone, Makindye West A, Kasimu Wasswa the chairman of Kiyembe Zone, blamed the EC for not educating the public on the voter location slips, asserting that some of the people who picked them were are unable to read.

“It’s an EC mistake. They shifted people who are from this polling station to other areas. They were transferred to other zones in the same parish, so some people are confused. Some got them but they do not know how to read,” he said.

“People are confused as to where they are supposed to vote; new polling stations were put up because where there were some previous 2016 polling stations, there are buildings now. Polling stations have changed,” one voter said.

 “The other mistake EC did was that they just brought them [slips] and put them where everyone was picking,” he further noted, insisting that it was a disorganised process, worsened by the fact that in some areas biometric machines failed to work.

At some polling stations in Gayaza, no voting had started by 9am because the biometric machines had failed to work while in other stations, material arrived after 8:30am.

Lydia Ainomugisha, our field reporter monitoring events in the area, said many people had gathered at the polling stations as early as 6am but were disappointed.

“I have visited many polling stations here in Gayaza and up to now voting hasn’t started. Many people have even started walking away while those on the ground are shouting at them not to leave and wait to vote,” she said.

Others, she said, formed groups and talked in hushed tones, and there seemed to be general frustration because of the delay in voting.

However, at 9:55am, polling stations eventually opened and voters started casting their votes amid broken seals and half ballot boxes

In Kira municipality, people refused to vote because ballot papers were delivered with broken seals, the paper reported, while at the Kireku Railway polling station, polling material had broken seals and some of the ballot boxes were half empty.

Voters refused to cast their votes, demanding that sealed ballots must be delivered, the paper said, noting that by early afternoon the situation was still calm, “but everyone here is annoyed,”.

At the St James Church of Uganda polling station, biometric machines failed to work, delaying voting by more than one hour, while complaints were being raised of flouting standard operating procedures (SOPs). No hand sanitisers were available present and no social distancing was being exercised even after the EC budgeted up to Shs60billion for sanitisers, the report added. Read More...

Top Stories