KAMPALA – A proposal by Justice Simon Byabakama, the Chairperson of Electoral Commission to ban cameras or any recording device inside polling stations was rejected by lawmakers on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
JusticeByabakama who had led the team from the Electoral Commission to submit its views on the proposed electoral reforms backed Government’s proposal to ban cameras at polling stations.
He said, “We propose that we should ban or exclude cameras from polling stations for purposes of preserving the sanctity and secrecy of one’s ballot. If you are going to allow cameras, then where is the secrecy of the ballot?”
In a bid to fulfil recommendations made by the Supreme Court in the presidential election petition filed by former Premier, Amama Mbabazi, Byaruhanga tabled a number of bill geared towards making electoral reforms including; The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Political Parties and Organisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Among the proposed amendments is a proposal by Government seeking to prohibit use of cameras or recording devices at polling stations with the proposed bill stipulating that in the process of voting, a person shall not use a camera of any kind or any recording device inside a polling station.
The proposed bill further states that a person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding forty-eight currency points imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.
However, Byabakama’s submission was rejected by both NRM and Opposition MPs including Jovah Kamateeka (Mitooma Woman), Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County), Aston Kajara (Mwenge South) who argued that cameras are needed for transparency purposes and in gathering evidence in areas where they experience irregularities.
Byabakama however further argued that cameras should be prohibited for the issues of secrecy of a voter’s choice, but his argument was shot down by the MPs who said that cameras should only be prohibited around the voting booths and not the entire polling station to which Byabakama promised to compromise on.