The Electoral Commission has stressed that journalists and media personnel will not be allowed to take photographs inside the polling stations.
With less than five days to January 14, the elections day, the Electoral Commission (EC) has stressed that journalists and media personnel will not be allowed to take photographs inside the polling stations.
According to Justice Simon Byabakama the Commission’s Chairperson this has been done to ensure secrecy of the ballot and to protect the privacy of voters.
Byabakama however, rubbished claims that phones and cameras will not be allowed at polling stations, he said that stakeholders will be allowed to take pictures but outside the cordoned-off voting area.
“Given the nature of our polling booth, which is an open basin, the presence of cameras inside polling stations may jeopardise the secrecy of the ballot, due to uncontrolled use of cameras and other recording devices,” Byabakama noted.
“Please note that the secrecy of the ballot is aimed at ensuring that a vote is anonymous and cannot be traced back to the person who cast it.”
Also, the EC boss said that voters will not be permitted to display their choice of candidate by taking photos of their ballot papers.
He explained that this is in line with Article 68(1) of the constitution which provides for a secret ballot in presidential, parliamentary and Local Government Council elections.
“A secret ballot is, therefore, fundamental in achieving peaceful, free and fair elections. A voter must not display his/her choice of a candidate on polling day by taking a photograph, including a selfie, or recording a video of his/her marked ballot paper,” Byabakama added.
“Similarly, a voter must not display his/her choice of a candidate on polling day by marking his/her choice on the ballot paper in the open, outside the basin which has been provided for secrecy.”
He, however, stressed that voters or candidates’ agent will be allowed to take pictures and videos of the issued declaration result forms at different polling stations they are assigned to.
“The Electoral Commission has however permitted a voter or a candidate’s agent to take photographs or recordings of the vote counting process and take photographs or record the issued declaration of results form.”
However, this comes at a time when the EC last week, directed that all Ugandans depart the polling stations immediately after casting their vote.
For the previous elections, voters have had to remain at their polling stations to observe the counting and tallying of the votes, however, the EC boss noted that this will not be possible this time around for fear that the exercise might allow people to congest at a time when the COVID-19 is fast spreading.