OPINION: Uganda’s Electoral Commission Should Borrow a Leaf From Victoria University’s Online Elections

Electing leaders to occupy various formal positions is a norm in any democratic setting, and Uganda is no exception.
On a sad note, fraud has adulterated this hard-earned democracy, with the national Electoral Commission being at the spotlight.

At the forefront of challenging the status quo, is Victoria University Uganda that is proving to be a leader in organizing credible and transparent elections.
Last week, the University held its first-ever virtual guild presidential elections, a process that portrayed free and fair elections exercise at the jinja-road-based institution.

The voting process that went on for two days saw two contenders Kirabo Michelle and Abdul-Basit Kasimagwa battle it out for the Guild Presidency seat, the former eventually winning the election with a 74.1% poll return in her favour.

Many interlocutors largely expressed their optimism, disclosing that there is a highly likelihood of the process yielding to the expectations of all. Reports of fraud, voter bribery, threats and intimidation are unheard of, among several stakeholders at the University.

Victoria university electoral commission’s act of organizing a credible election arose the eyebrows of many, setting a forever precedent to anyone who ever thinks of organising a free and fair election.

The Assistant academic registrar at Victoria University Ms. Aturinda Precious vehemently underscored the fact that the university is revolutionalizing guild elections in Ugandan universities.

“It is live, we have live updates, and everyone is seeing what is happening from wherever they are. According to how the system was built, once you do the voting, you are able to see what is happening. Like everyone in their student account, they are able to see what is happening,” Ms Aturinda remarked.

Kirabo Michelle, who is a contender in the guild race disclosed to us that the online voting system at the university is amazingly efficient.

“The system is so far efficient. Yes, it is not a bad mode of conducting elections, but some students who are unable to access data will not be able to vote,” Ms Kirabo noted.

A year one student at the same university by names of Wasikye John Chris concurred with Ms Kirabo.
“I expect the system to bring exactly what we are seeing on the portal, so I believe and think if nothing is interrupted with, we are going to get what is exactly on the portal, unless we get interruptions.”

Mr Wasikye also revealed that the current state of affairs, regarding the excellent performance of the system is due to concerted and tireless efforts by the University’s Information Technology department.
“The University itself and the IT department have managed to do their best, everything is in position, there is no mess,” he asserted.

Victoria University undertook a carefully conceived strategy, by organising its first ever online election. It allows monitoring by candidates and students after voting virtually.
Candidates are able to follow and watch their votes and tentative results in real- time from wherever they are situated. It was meticulously planned. This underscores the possibility of achieving election transparency, which is quiet unheard of, on the African continent.

It is a live system, the first of its kind in Uganda, in all private and public institutions, universities notwithstanding.
It is a game changer and is likely to make history, all sorts of election malpractice in the country once implemented in institutions like universities.

Such a kind of system will restore confidence in various electoral committees, which is a precursor to revitalizing democracy.

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