Prof. Barya: National Identity Card Not Voter’s Card


and sans-serif; font-size: 9pt; line-height: 200%;”>Citizens and non-citizens (who are resident in a country) are issued with national identity cards on the basis of the national identification numbers. The national identification number clearly identifies a citizen from a non-citizen.

On the basis of the data in the national identification system, government agencies, public and private sector organisations generate basic data for their unique systems. Examples of organisations in Uganda that would rely heavily on the data in the national identification system include Uganda Electoral Commission, Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Police, Hospitals, Schools, Higher Education Institutions, Telecommunication companies, banks, insurance companies etc.

So the national identification system should not be confused with the electronic voters’ register. Citizens should have both a voter’s card and a national identity card. However, for one to acquire a voter’s card he/she must have a national identity card that identifies him/her as a citizen of voting age.

A Voter’s card in addition to containing information available on the national identity card should have information specific to the voter like the voter constituency etc.

With this in mind, it is erroneous to associate multiple voting during elections to lack of national identity cards. The national identification system if fully validated will help eliminate voting by non-citizens.

Also, if the national identification system is regularly updated, ghost voters can also be automatically eliminated from the voters’ register. For example for a citizen to be buried, permission should be got from a relevant office linked to the national identification system.

In this case, deceased citizens would be automatically indicated as such in the national identification system and therefore cannot appear on the voters’ register.

As they say, the system is as good as its implementers. If there has been rigging of elections before the national identification system is put in place, this will continue unless we address the other causes that lead to rigging of elections.

The machines are overseen by human beings and so it’s the human beings to make rigging impossible and not the machines.

From previous studies, it is clear that significant rigging of elections in Uganda has been through ballot stuffing and alteration of declaration forms. This is still possible even with a national identification system.

So instead of focusing on technology as the solution to vote rigging we need to focus on the people who operate the technology (machines) and the other people that oversee and manage the elections like the returning officers and polling agents.

For example, election results can be altered as a result of collusion among the polling agents and the returning officer.

The author is Vice Chancellor UTAMU


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