Voters Defy EC Guidelines, Wait for Vote Counting at Polling Station

Despite the EC’s guideline asking voters to leave polling stations after casting their votes to forestall the spread of COVID-19, voters in many parts of Kampala Metropolitan could be seen waiting for vote counting to start after casting their votes Stern warnings by the Electoral Commission and Police against waiting at the polling station after voting and admonishing the voters to go home were largely ignored in several voting areas.

At several polling stations that URN visited in Kampala and Wakiso district, voters could be seen in groups waiting for vote counting to take place after casting their votes. Many voters who we spoke to intimated that they were waiting for vote counting to take place before they could leave because they were afraid of ghost voters. In Makindye division, voters hanging around polling stations after casting their votes could be seen in both Makindye East and West waiting for vote counting to start.

Gordon Wamala, who cast his vote at Water Pump polling station located in Makindye East told URN that he had decided to wait for his vote because the circumstances under which voting began late are suspicious. “Voting here begun late at 9:00 am yet there are many people here. Due to the congestion here, anything can happen to the votes. We are suspicious that the votes might be tampered with,” he said.

In Wakiso similar scenarios were recorded. After casting their votes, voters at different polling stations within Nansana could be seen hanging around the polling stations. The shops and restaurants near St Peters Church of Uganda Nkowe located in Busiro East became waiting lounges for voters. Jamil Sembatya, a voter who our reporter found at a shop drinking a coca-cola told URN that they were determined to guard their votes until voting ended.

“We are going to wait until the votes are counted. We do not trust these people. They might slip in votes that do not belong here to cheat. We are also seated here to encourage our colleagues that are still standing in line to vote because many of them are tired and they might decide to go back home without voting,” Sembatya said.

At Zibena gardens also located in Nansana division, groups of people could be seen waiting at shops adjacent the polling station. Here, voters could be seen buying drinks as they closely followed what is happening around the country on television and radio sets. In Nakawa, many of the voters as well complied with the directive to leave the polling station after casting their votes. However, a few voters decided to wait.

At Zone 4 polling station located at Elyon Nursery and Primary School in Biina, voters were seen waiting outside the polling station. At Nakawa Community Center crowds of voters were also seen standing outside the community centre waiting for vote counting to start.

The same was seen at St Mbaga Primary School. Many voters we spoke to said they were going to observe social distancing and wear masks as they wait for vote counting to start. Betty Namboozo a resident of Kiwatule Central located in Nakawa West whom we interview after she had cast vote says that there is no way she could miss the vote-counting process.

She says people need to know who is leading. “I am going home to do some things but I will be back later to observe the counting. We need to know which people are leading the election. They cannot stop us from doing this,” she said. Last week, opposition parties encouraged their supporters to hang around polling stations after casting their votes to protect the ballots.

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