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Building UNAA Member’s confidence in the upcoming Elections – Denver, September 5, 2011

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Posted August 18, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 3,483 views

     

From the desk of the Chairperson-UNAA Denver Electoral Commission 2011.

Dear Fellow Ugandans,

This is another exciting year in the history of the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA), as we will witness the formalized process of voting for new leadership who will take the organization to the next level.  Among the excitement is the fact that UNAA Electoral Commission (UNAA EC) is operating under a new Constitution, which was ratified by her membership in September 2010.  This is also the first time in history where a female Chairperson heads UNAA EC.  For more information, please visit: www.unaa.org

Before I proceed, allow me this opportunity to thank the current UNAA President, Mr. Moses Wilson and the UNAA Board for all the great work they do daily to sustain the Organization.  I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the men and women of the UNAA-Denver Organizing Committee for the hard work and efforts put forth to organize this year’s convention.  Further UNAA will always be indebted to the founders who had the vision of uniting Ugandans every year.  Let me also recognize the ingenuity of Ms. Margaret Musoke of Seattle Washington, who led the first platform to formalize the electoral process. Followed by the two great men of courage namely: Mr. Alexander Zabasajja, the first Electoral Commission Chairman (2007) and Mr. Timothy Gaburungyi the immediate past Chairman (2009).   Last but not least, special thanks to the great team on the Electoral Commission-2011 who are working tirelessly in an effort to deliver an efficient electoral process which will be viewed as free and fair to the voters.   Uganda is so proud of her brainpower!!

Fundamentals

Alfred Smith, who was governor of New York between the wars, once said, “It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.” In fact, of course, you can’t have one without the other. But without the dedication and hard work of UNAA Board, UNAA-Denver, Community Members, Electoral Commission and volunteers in the Diaspora, voters would not be able to make their votes count. The work that everyone in this Organization does is fundamental to running a free and fair election.

The Electoral Commission (EC)

The EC has a critical role of building public confidence, and in support of UNAA’s Goals and Objectives.   All members of UNAA play an integral role in this process. So, what are the EC’s hallmarks of an electoral process that puts voters first democratically?  We have identified the following key areas to focus on during this year’s election process:

1)    Putting Voters First
2)    The Candidates roles and responsibility
3)    Creating Public Awareness
4)    Streamlining the Registration Process
5)    Voter Education
6)    Fraud Prevention
7)    Membership and Voters Registry
8)    Confidence in the Electoral Commission

Putting Voters First

The Electoral Commission understands very well that the boundaries on which elections are conducted should be clear and fair. The process for registering to vote should be secure, but also easy to understand and complete. The mechanics of voting should be sufficiently straightforward that anyone who is registered can vote. Therefore, we are working very hard to make sure that Ballot papers and other material show voters clearly and unambiguously what their choices are. We have produced a wide range of advice and guidance based on what we’ve found to the UNAA International Board. We’ve also pushed for changes we believe are needed to make the system work better for voters, based on the voice of the customer, which is you the Community. We would like the voters to be confident that their votes will be kept secret, and that their votes will count in Denver on September 5th, 2011.

Candidates Roles and Responsibility

Candidates are the main backbone of the Electoral Process. If there are no candidates, Voters will not have a reason to go through the exercise.  Therefore, they too have high expectations of the electoral process, and they have every right to be demanding. Elections are their opportunity to present their individual manifestos and choices they offer to voters, and give them reasons to vote. Making it possible for voters to do that effectively is another vital part of running elections.

The EC would like to remind all the candidates to remain civil to fellow candidates.  Recognizing that the common denominator is to serve as a volunteer for the noble Organization.  We recommend that candidates refrain from acts of innuendos, name-calling, threats, violence and any actions that are deemed unfair to another.  We also encourage all candidates to communicate with members in their respective communities about the importance of voting.  This is the only way candidates will be successful in their endeavors in Denver.

Creating Public Awareness

For our part as  the Electoral Commission, we are working hard to support improvements in the consistency and quality of elections management through talking to people involved at all levels in the Community, in an attempt to create awareness of the upcoming elections in Denver on Sunday, September 5th, 2011. The EC is very conscious indeed that without effective Guidelines and voter education, the electoral process will not get off first base. Therefore, we have published the Electoral Guidelines, pertinent documents and deadlines at www.unaa.org and we encourage all candidates and members to secure this information and submit their documents prior to the deadline (8/25/11) in order to be certified as candidates.

Streamlining the Registration Process:

The EC recognizes the need to have a proper mechanism of individual voter registration and personal identifiers to provide a system that’s robust enough to harness technology.  The EC has called to the UNAA Board to excuse those current UNAA Board Members who are aspiring candidates from handling the registration process.   This is necessary to make voting more straightforward and accessible, without compromising voters’ confidence that the process is secure. The electoral register is the bedrock for the rest of the system.

Voter Education

The Electoral Commission recognizes the need to put the interest of voters first in everything we do – and not be afraid to challenge where we believe standards fall short. Every part of the electoral process should be as convenient, secure and easy to understand for voters – and candidates – as we are able to make it.  Therefore, we will publish a Question and Answer section at www.unaa.org so that members can find out most of their answers to the questions.  If still in doubt or cannot find an answer to your question, please send your inquiries to:  Unaaec2011@yahoogroups.com and an EC official will respond to you in a timely manner. The impartiality of the Commission is vital for public confidence, but so is our effectiveness.  We can only achieve this through voter education.

Fraud Prevention

The EC is working very hard to put a system in place to ensure fraud during the election process is minimized or non-existent.  This will take a Team effort between members, candidates and voters, to make sure we do everything we can to promote and protect the integrity of our electoral system.   We are aiming to prevent fraud so that people can be reassured that their vote is secure while maintaining a non-threatening environment.

Membership and Voter Registry

The EC will abide by the General Laws and Federal Laws that govern UNAA International to protect the membership while maintaining data integrity.   For more information or inquiries about membership, please write to secretary@unaa.org.  The Voter Registry will be published in accordance with the applicable laws.

Confidence in the Electoral Commission

It’s clear that members and candidates have got a tough job ahead convincing voters

not simply whom they should vote for, but why they should go to the polls at all.  However, the  Electoral Commission has a critical role in building UNAA Member’s confidence, that the coming elections in Denver will be fair and clear. There was a lot of concern and communication following the past elections, therefore, restoring faith is essential that there is  transparency over the process and that there is a degree of trust that the EC is acting independently from all the external forces.  However, I also want to be clear that we intend to keep the pressure on to help things get better. If we’re going to restore public confidence in UNAA-EC, we need to be clear that the process begins and ends with members, candidates and voters. And that’s going to mean serious change, and hard work, for all of us working to protect and promote democracy.   I also wish to remind all members that this will take a concerted effort from all parties involved to abide by the Guidelines set forth by the EC to ensure a smooth process.

Closing

It gives me so much honor to serve on this years’ UNAA-Denver Electoral Commission as the first female Chairperson.  As discussed above, this would not have been possible if I did not have a supportive team of dedicated Commissioners who have sacrificed their time, money and family demands to meet regularly in an attempt to streamline an effective electoral process.  Each member of UNAA has a critical role to play to ensure a smooth process. This is a serious challenge, and, as I have said, one we cannot underestimate, particularly in the run-up to the fast-approaching General Elections in Denver. It is also an opportunity for all of us who believe in the democratic process to seize this chance. We need to put members first, to shape the electoral system around their wants and needs. We must also take the chance to harness the goals and objectives of UNAA while promoting democracy. I encourage all Ugandans in North America and Canada to register to vote by August 20th, 2011 so you can be one of the members who effected change.

For more information, please send your inquiries to unaaec2011@yahoo.com.  For required documents or registration and deadlines, please visit: www.unaa.org.

Thank you so much for your willingness to serve UNAA.  I am looking forward to seeing you all in Denver.

Sincerely,

Ms. Peace Seninde
Chairperson

UNAA-EC Denver 2011

Cc:      UNAA International BOD
UNAA Denver Organizing Committee
Ms. Margaret Musoke
Mr. Alexander Zabasajja
Mr. Timothy Gaburungyi
UNAA-Denver Electoral Commission 2011:

Chair Person Peace Seninde
Vice Chair Person Michael Kimbugwe
Secretary Monday Atigo
Treasurer Jude Ssempungu
Commissioner Michael Kiyemba
Commissioner Nambago Kalema
Commissioner Sam Mutyaba
Commissioner Fiora Abe
Commissioner Caroline Olok
Commissioner Stephen Katende
Commissioner Moses Kisembo
Commissioner Edward Kabateraine
Commissioner Olive Katarikawe

 


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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