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Biometric Voter Verification Kits Frustrate Polling in Gulu City, Lamwo

Reagan Opiro, a voter in Tegwana Parish says he made several failed attempts to vote in the morning because his identity couldn't easily be verified by the machine until he voted manually. He added that some of the voters he was queuing with left after thy became impatient.
20 Jan 2021 17:55
Reagan Opiro, a voter in Tegwana Parish preparing to vote manually - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Voting across polling stations in Gulu City on Wednesday suffered delays after biometric voter verification machines failed to function properly. Several presiding officers delayed commencing voting until they waited for further instruction from their supervisors at the Electoral Commission - EC offices forcing impatient voters to walk away.

Reagan Opiro, a voter in Tegwana Parish says he made several failed attempts to vote in the morning because his identity couldn't easily be verified by the machine until he voted manually.

He added that some of the voters he was queuing with left after they became impatient.

One of the presiding officers at Layibi Central P.7 School polling station who preferred not to be mention said the machines failed to verify the identity of people causing unprecedented delays which angered some voters.

Derrick Lewic, another Presiding Officer says while some voters turned up early to vote, the fingerprint biometric machines, operated slowly and inconvenience the verification process.

Alfred Okwonga, the Gulu City Mayoral candidate expressed dissatisfaction at the inefficiency of the biometric machines at the time when the local government election has been marred by low voter turn up.

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Another contestant, Christopher Acire of the Forum for Democratic Change – FDC party said that some of his agents have reported failure of the fingerprint machines like in Pageya-Laroo polling station forcing away some voters.

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In the recently concluded Presidential and parliamentary elections, the EC was forced to instruct Presiding Officers to resort to the use of manual verification, which consequently slowed the voting process.

The fingerprint machines failed to function in Koro-Kal Polling Station; Kasubi Central in Gulu West Division, Forest Ward in Gulu City East Division among others forcing the Presiding Officers to resort to the manual labour. Gulu City has up to 188 polling stations.

In Lamwo District, a section of electoral officials opted for the manual registration and verification of voters after the machines failed.  

The glitch was noticed at Atwol Tree and Palaa Te-Sambia polling stations both in Padibe Town Council, Aluu market polling station in Padibe West Sub County, Jamula P.7 school polling station in Paloga Sub County and Kapeta Wanglango polling station in Madi Opei Sub County.

Richard Ottoo a voter at Okol Wanglango polling stations says the failure of the biometric machine delayed the voting process as voters patiently waited as the polling officials fidgeted with the faulty machines.

Ottoo expressed worry over the failure of the machines saying opting for the manual verification had slowed voting, created longer voter queues and anticipates that the situation would lock out some voters from participating in the polls that close at 4 pm.