KAMPALA – Parliament has legalised the use of technology in the management of general elections.
The move is in accordance with a recommendation of the Supreme Court in the presidential election petition of Amama Mbabazi Vs Y. K. Museveni, Electoral Commission and others.
In the ruling, judges observed that in the absence of clear legislative provisions prohibiting the adoption of technology management in elections, the Court could not prevent the Electoral Commission (EC) from using technology to improve its efficiency.
The use of technology in the management of general elections was contained in the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament on Thursday 5 March 2020.
The Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019 sought to amend the Electoral Commission Act, Cap.140 to establish the Electoral Reform Committee; to provide for the use of technology in the management of elections; to redesignate registrars as district election administrators; to provide for the appointment of assistant returning officers by the commission; and related matters.
Currently, the EC introduced technology in election management, including the introduction of the National Voters Register, voter identity verification technology, Biometric Voter Verification System and electronic transfer of results.
Clause 2 of the Bill provided that the Commission may, in the exercise of its powers adopt technology in the management of elections.
Hon. Nandala Mafabi (FDC, Budadiri West) said that establishment of the technological systems will enable auditing and verifying of election data, which avoids mismanagement of elections by individuals.
“The Commission should ensure that technology to be used is simple, accurate and transparent. This system should be tested and everybody agreeable to it,” he said.
Hon. Lee Denis Oguzu (FDC, Maracha County) said that use of technology will ensure accuracy, consistency and good quality results from elections.
“This intervention will contribute in addressing challenges which may arise in elections, thereby facilitating free and fair elections,” he said.
Hon. Maurice Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula South) said that electronic display in tally centres should be considered as some of the technologies to be used by the EC.
“This is a government that has time to purchase such equipment to make sure that they can properly display this information. The only problem we have is that we are fond of fighting for such procurements and end up with poor quality equipment,” he said.
Hon. Lucy Akello (FDC, Amuru district) said that the law will ensure proper utilization of the Shs115 billion earmarked in the election budget for the use of technology in the 2021 general elections.
“This is too much money and we needed a law which will help us come up with good guidelines on expenditure of that money,” she said.