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Uganda: Elections – Observers Want Details On Biometric Machines


A team of local election observers have tasked authorities at the Electoral Commission (EC) to publicise details about the Biometric Voter Verification Kits (BVVK) and the technology that will be employed to capture voters’ details, tally and compute results of the general elections slated for Thursday next week.

The local observers under the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Forum in their address to the media in Kampala yesterday demanded that the EC avails the specifics of the procurement details and how the BVVK will work.

A BVVK is an electronic device employed to capture and verify details of a voter before he or she is issued with a ballot paper to vote. The BVVK were used by the EC in the 2016 General Election. The EC deploys the machine at every polling station and works by having each voter fingerprint scanned to stop multiple voting.

The Centre for Constitutional Governance boss, Ms Sarah Birete, decried the delay by the EC to make public the details of the biometrics that will be used and also wondered if the EC had trained officials who will use the machines at the various polling stations.

“Eight days to the general elections and the EC officials have not come out to tell us whether the machines are ready or not. We don’t have information from EC to show whether the biometric technology arrived or not,” Ms Birete said.

“We don’t know whether the technology can provide back up of voters’ information and whether it can be used to retrieve data in case there is need for an audit,” she added.

The observers said the machines should have come before the dispatch of the electoral materials yesterday so that the users get enough time to get acquainted on how to use them.

Cause for worry?

Mr Arthur Katabalwa of the Renewed Uganda (RU) platform popularising the presidential candidature of Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, said: “Their [EC] delay in providing the details on biometric machines is suspect because there are already problems with the way they are handling the campaign schedules of Opposition candidates. We thought this information should have been shared many days back.”

The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) desk officer, Mr Rogers Bika, said they were going to engage their officials on how to ensure their votes are safe.

EC response

The EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, promised to avail details about BVVK and the technology to be used in next week’s polls.

He also explained that his commission had no concealed motives in delaying to provide the public with details.

“The commission in its quest to exhibit transparency and inclusiveness in the processes, we are going to invite at an appropriate time the political parties or candidates at the demonstration stage of how this new system operates. This system is going to be used at all polling stations across the country.”

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