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Bwerenga Residents Dispute 49% Invalid Votes Registered in 2016 Polls

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According to the breakdown president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni garnered 264 votes, followed by Dr. Kizza Besigye, Abeid Bwanika, Joseph Mabirizi and Maureen Faith Kyalya Waluube who got two votes each, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi one vote while Prof. Venansius Baryamureeb and the late General. Benon Buta Biraaro got zero votes.
Bwerenga

Audio 6

Half of the votes cast at Bwerenga (N-Z) Radio polling station in Kisubi Parish, Busiro South County in Wakiso District in the 2016 presidential elections were invalid.  According to the EC register, there were 734 registered voters at Bwerenga (N-Z) Radio polling station.

In the 2016 elections 538 votes were cast at this polling station.  However, 273 votes were valid and the remaining 265 were invalid representing 49.26 percent of the votes cast.

According to the breakdown president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni garnered 264 votes, followed by Dr. Kizza Besigye, Abeid Bwanika, Joseph Mabirizi and Maureen Faith Kyalya Waluube who got two votes each, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi one vote while Prof. Venansius Baryamureeb and the late General. Benon Buta Biraaro got zero votes.

However, four years after the elections, some voters, polling agents and local leaders have disputed some of the data. Fred Masete, the polling agent for Mbabazi at Bwerenga (A-M) and Bwerenga (N-Z) Radio polling stations and Charles Ssenkumba, a polling agent for Museveni at A-M polling station who voted at Bwerenga (N-Z) Radio polling station have disputed the number of the invalid votes.

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Heinlein Nyondo, Grace Nalubega and Teopista Nakato who voted at the N-Z polling station also dispute the invalid number of votes. Nakato, who voted for President Yoweri Museveni in 2016, says although Besigye did not win at Bwerenga (N-Z) polling station he didn’t get only two votes.  

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Nalubega argues that EC polling and tallying officials inflated the number of invalid votes to deny Besigye victory. She suspects that the polling officials could have changed the figures because polling started after midday and tallying was done at night.  Nyondo says polling stopped around 7pm and tallying ended after 10 pm.

Luganda

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Joseph Emoit, the NRM chairperson in Bwerenga village also disputes the number of invalid votes at Bwerenga (N-Z) Radio polling station. He says the huge number of invalid votes is an embarrassment to both the voters and his legacy for the last 27 years as Bwerenga LC 1 chairperson.

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Bwerenga village is home to over 4,000 people. According to Emoit, says that there were less than 30 invalid votes at the polling station because "Bwerenga is a model village in Katabi Town Council and his people know what to do. “So it is not possible that we had over 250 invalid votes. Otherwise, we would have known about it in 2016,” he said.  

He adds that such figures should have compelled the EC and civil society organizations to carry out voter and civic education ahead of the 2020/2021 elections. Voters say no civic education has been done so far in the village.  Emoit with assistance from residents tried to find out the names of the presiding officers because they were aliens and only appeared on the polling day. 

Attempts to get copies of the election result declaration forms from the polling agents of Museveni, Besigye or Mbabazi were futile.   Even when Emoit telephoned one of the polling officers who manned the A-M polling station in 2016, he was unsuccessful. The officer directed Emoit to the Assistant Registrar's office in Kawuku.

Our reporters also found it difficult to trace the presiding officers of this polling station both at the EC offices in Kawuku and Wakiso. Paul Bukenya, the acting EC Spokesperson, concurs that the number of invalid votes at Bwerenga (N-Z) polling station in 2016 was "out rightly on a very high side."But he says that the data was received from the officials at the polling station and is treated as official.

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URN asked him to avail the declaration of results form of the digitized declaration forms from the polling station in vain. Bukenya said they are in the midst of preparing for the 2020/2021 general election and cannot go back to data of four years ago.

Bukenya, however, says some voters invalidate their votes deliberately as a form of protest while others are accidental.

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