Proposed Electoral reforms: Experts warn against separate day voting says it removes the Constitution virtual of secret ballot.
Political experts have issued a warning against a provision in the proposed electoral reforms that seek early voting for security officers.
These experts say this provision of early voting will delete the Constitutional effectiveness of secret voting.
In this provision, the army, police, medical personnel’s and journalists are supposed to vote five days to the official general elections date.
The five (5) proposed electoral reforms were tabled on the floor of parliament last week by the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga and among them was the early voting provision.
They were then sent to the parliamentary committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for scrutiny and later be returned to Parliament within 45 days for debate.
Constitutional Law Don, Dr Kakngulu Mayambala says the proposed early voting to be effective, the government must ensure secrecy of the ballot.
“If a given category of People for example; the servicemen and women, the police and the military and other people rendering essential services such as medical doctors and maybe journalists. If they are to vote at least five (5) days early, it presents a challenge of how to make sure that the vote they would have cast remains secret and does not raise a lot of anxiety,” Mayambala said.
However, AIGP Asan Kasingye says the provision favours security forces because it allows them to exercise their constitutional right and that’s the right to vote.
“I am 100% behind this reform, that police officer and security agencies that will be involved in the electoral process, especially on the polling day be allowed to cast their vote day or two days before the actual date. Why? I wouldn’t want them to be disenfranchised, because they are also voters like other people,” AIGP Kasingye said.
Mayambala however, advised the government to employ an automated system in the electoral process if at all early voting is to be effective.
“In the US they have an automated system whereby there’s early voting and people continue voting until the voting closes. It will require a lot of sensitisation for the voters to be able to do it because we have even people who cannot load airtime, people who cannot use smartphones, so if you are to go digital we are still far,” Mayambala said.
Relatedly, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) quashed the newly tabled electoral reforms saying that the proposals are a mere mockery of political players in Uganda intended to make politics hard and unrealistic.
“What the government did last week was actually to take away even the few gains that we’ve made in the last couples of years. Now there are stringed rules to those who want to be independent, arrangement for polling stations and polling day is changing, so I think there are no reforms, they have no reforms, they have presented their own set of a stringed rules that are going to make elections extremely very difficult,” Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda FDC spokesperson said said.
Early voting of armed forces and selected professional which are to be held four (4) days before the official day of voting, FDC says is a plan to rig elections and violet security personnel’s freedoms.
“There was a time when we had soldiers voting from barrack, they said no no you must vote with everybody, so that’s why polling stations were removed from barrack to outside to enable the soldiers’ vote. Because you see the government can’t allow the soldiers to vote against it, now they want to achieve what they can’t achieve by soldiers voting with the population,” Ssemujju said.
Ssemujju however, promised the nation that the committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on which he sits together with the Parliament will make sure that some of those unfavourable proposals are thrown out.
“I sit on the committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs where those proposals have been referred to, that committee has sensible people. So I hope with the committee and parliament collectively we will be able to throw out some of the stringed proposals that government has made that’s going to make this election very difficult and also it will also be an opportunity to put in reforms that the country has been demanding. So, not everything is lost now, the fact that they have brought the proposals to amend the laws, we will go and fight them,” Ssemujju said.