No cameras at polling stations
Parliament divided over Electoral Commission's plan that seeks a ban on cameras at polling stations. File Photo

MPs are divided on the proposals tabled by Electoral Commission (EC) before the Committee of No cameras at polling stations

Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee members are divided on one of the proposals tabled by Electoral Commission (EC) before the Committee of No cameras at polling stations, which caused a lot of debate among the Committee members.

In their arguments, legislators who support the ban said No cameras at polling stations, will make the sanctity of privacy during voting.

Because the main thrust is that the people who are casting their votes need to do so in secrecy. 

While legislators advocating for camera use at polling stations, state that their absence will raise questions of transparency. 

These remarks were made after Electoral Commission led by their chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama returned to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to make their final submission on the five electoral bills that were submitted before the Committee.

“The secret ballot does not mean that somebody should vote when cameras are away, you are not voting under a camera, especially when you have heard reports about your selves that results will reach Nambole after going through Nagulu. I have not convicted you no! I have only said you have heard it and you know it,” Medard Lubega Segona, Busiro East legislator said.

“We have been receiving such complaints honourable chair of people running over the polling station with cameras and in my political point of view, you and I have been in court, we have interfaced with elections petitions, nowhere and from experience nowhere have we ever confronted a situation of complaints of secrecy. Nowhere! In Parliament here, even the media is regulated, they don’t cover our proceedings from plenary,” Jacob Oboth Oboth, Chairperson Legal and Parliamentary Committee said.

Electoral Commission as well opposed the government proposal, which provides that the electoral commission should consult the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, on the mode of technology to be used in the elections.

“This might be an encroachment on the independence of the Commission, to make the minister prescribe regulations, prescribing how the commission will use technology is encroaching on the independence of the commission,” Byabakama said.

In the EC’s further proposals, all the five divisions in Kampala should be elevated to the level of an electoral district.

According to EC, the number of voters in these divisions is overwhelming to be handled by the current District Returning officers.

EC also seeks powers to prosecute a candidate, who fails to comply with Electoral guidelines.

Nonetheless, EC agrees with government on the proposal of having early elections of some sections of Ugandans, in addition to organising elections for the people of Uganda. 

The Committee also tasked the EC to explain their stand on the Kabong Woman District legislator by-election issue, where the FDC candidate withdrew from the race without the consent of her political party.

“We’ve been reading about Kabong, Kabong for a record, Kabong has had a numbery of elections in this term more than any other district. A party which sponsored the candidature has not signed and filed the said notification, now as a result, as electoral commission our hands are tied. Her withdraw is not complete, unless and until it’s endorsed and signed by the political party that sponsored her,” Bybakama explained.