No voting should take place if Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines malfunction on 14th – Museveni suggests.

The President of Uganda has suggested that no voting should take place at polling stations where the Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines fail to work on the voting day that is 14th January 2021. His Excellency made these remarks while addressing the nation in his last evening address where he also confirmed the ban on Facebook in the country.

This would mean all preparations for voting tomorrow be put on hold until it is assured that the machines are fully functional.

Also read: Facebook is officially blocked in Uganda for ban on pro-government accounts.

He further suggested that voting should only resume at these polling stations when the Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines have returned to normal verfication.

The Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines came on the 9th of January 2021 at a cost of at UGX82.8 billion. These were purchased in order to streamline the voting process at each polling station come the election day.

The Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines aim to ensure transparency and integrity in the voting process by providing voter authentication based on their biometric verification system (thumbprint) which is unique to every voter. With this, the commission will reduce voter fraud and double voting practices that have been noticed in the past elections as some voters have been casting their votes more than once.

In addition to the above, the Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines also help voter locate their polling stations.

Electoral Commission received 38,500 biometric verification machines from Smartmatic International, the same company that supplied machines in 2016 for general elections according to a story that ran on the NTV on 9th January 2021. Of the 38,500 that have been received, 2000 were purchased and the remaining 36,500 were leased. These machines will be deployed across the country to 34,684 polling stations.

Electoral Commission biometric voter verification machines fail to work in 2016.

In her previous elections, Uganda faced various challenges on the polling day and among these was the malfunctioning of the biometric voter verification machines that day.

Voters that claimed to have registered for the previous elections Uganda used the biometric system for the first time in the 2016 general elections could be verified by this technology on election day of February 18th, 2016 leaving most frustrated.

The similar case took place on the 9th this month when the Electoral Commission launched the machines in presence of various representatives of political parties who made claims that the machines were not functioning well.

In his statement, the Electoral Commission Chairman said that if the machines failed to work at a given polling station, the electoral commission will resort to the hard copy voter registers they have deployed at each station.

The President however came out last evening to suggest that voting at any given polling station should instead be put on hold until the biometric machines are able to do the voter verification.

Both statements are contradicting causing a lot of suspense. In the past, Uganda has used hard copy registers when voting and introduced biometric machines for the first time in 2016 which didn’t go so well. The President’s suggestion to wait until the machines are fully functioning would cause so much inconvenience considering the fact that election day is just tomorrow and there has been so much preparation in place for a long time now.

READ: Social media shutdown in Uganda gets many off-guard as they struggle to stay connected.

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