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UNAA EC | RESPONSE TO THE KAWUMA PETITION CHALLENGING VOTER REGISTER AND UNAA BOT RULING ON ELECTION OUTCOME

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Posted November 4, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in UNAA ELECTIONS 2017 ~ 425 views

     

Disclaimer — The draft below was sent to the BOT Chair from the UNAA-EC on October 13th 2017. Ugandan Diaspora News has however established that no updated version addressing the concerns of the BOT was ever submitted by the UNAA-EC.  If and when we get a response from the UNAA-EC addressing the BOT election nullification we shall make it public.

To: Dr. Joseph Buwembo, Chair UNAA BOT
From: Mr. Franco Wantsala, Chair, UNAA-EC
Date: October 13, 2017

RE: EC Response to Kawuma Petition Challenging (1) the validity of the Voter Register Used by the Electoral Commission in the 2017 UNAA Elections and (2) the Outcome of the Election.

Dear Dr. Buwembo,
Thank you for your letter dated September 25, 2017 regarding your response to a petition by Dr. Daniel Kawuma, challenging the validity of voter register used by the Electoral Commission in the 2017 UNAA Elections in addition to the outcome of the elections (See Exhibit 4). The Commission is also aware that Dr. Kawuma has submitted and keeps submitting versions of his petitions. You requested a response from the EC within 14 days and no later than October 9, 2017. We responded informing you that the EC would respond within two weeks because the EC needed more time to do so. Below is our response:

Current Situation

Before we provide a response to your letter, let us understand the current situation. During the 2017 UNAA General Elections, two candidates, Mr. Monday Atigo and Dr. Daniel Kawuma contested for the position of UNAA President. Mr. Monday Atigo received the majority votes, declared winner by the Electoral Commission and sworn in as UNAA President by the BOT Chair (See Exhibit #5). At that time, the BOT Chair also swore in other elected officials (See Exhibit #5). Because these officials were elected and sworn in, they assumed their various UNAA official responsibilities effective September 3, 2017.

Now, we are dealing with a situation in which a candidate who lost the election is evidently challenging the election results as a means of trying to over-turn the already officially concluded elections so that new elections may be held, hopefully in his favor. Toward this end, the petitioner is challenging:

(1) The validity of the voter register used by the Electoral Commission in the 2017 UNAA Elections.
(2) The outcome of the election in which he received a total of 166 votes and the winner, Mr. Atigo, received 189 votes (See Exhibit #5).

Response

Let us address the petition in the context of your letter. The position of the Electoral Commission is that (1) the voter register used by the EC in the 2017 UNAA elections was valid and that (2) the election outcome was fair. Let us address the two issues.

Validity of Voter Registration

The UNAA constitution and EC election guidelines empower the EC to maintain and update the voter register. This is how we did that. We asked the UNAA Secretary to provide us with an up-to-date list of UNAA members in good standing and who had paid up membership fees by the announced deadline of August 1, 2017. We asked the UNAA Treasurer to do the same. The designated UNAA official to send the list is the secretary. Mr. Peter Mukunya, the UNAA Secretary in collaboration with you as the BOT Chair, sent us the requested list on by August 7, 2917 (See Exhibits 1 and 2).

The UNAA Treasurer, Mr. Arthur Nantamu sent us his list on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 (See Exhibit #2). As these exhibits indicate, in preparation for the 2017 elections and after the constitutionally mandated 30-day prior voter registration deadline, the UNAA-EC requested the UNAA Secretary (who is constitutionally mandated to keep UNAA records) to provide a list of all members as of August1, 2017). After consultations with you, Mr. Chairman and UNAA BOT at large, the secretary submitted to the UNAA-EC a list of 781 members.

Two days before the elections, a petition from the UNAA Treasurer was sent to the EC and to the UNAA BOT making allegations of possible financial malpractices by an officer on the UNAA Executive. Specifically, the UNAA Treasurer alleged that some names did not have corresponding proof of payment of membership fees. The UNAA Treasurer also went ahead to submit a list of 428 members that he had thus far been verified by him as having been members in good standing (as of August 1, 2017).

Given that the UNAA is not mandated to collect membership fees and having no access to UNAA financial systems, the UNAA EC had no means of independently verifying which of the two lists represented an accurate record of UNAA members. Bear in mind, Mr. Chairman, that both officers were candidates in this election and the UNAA-EC had no justifiable reason to believe one candidate over the other at that time. Faced with this dilemma, the UNAA EC resolved to use both lists in creating the voter register for the 2017 election.

At election time, the UNAA EC verified that all persons allowed to vote were members in good standing by requiring the following: (1) proof of residence in North America (using a government Issued ID), and (2) proof of having paid membership dues (either by appearing on one of the two lists or showing a UNAA receipt of payment of membership fees by August 1, 2017. These requirements were sent in advance to all UNAA members and candidates on August 12, 2017 (See Exhibit #3). Concerning the 116 members that the BOT could not verify as UNAA members, the UNAA-EC would like to point out that 104 of the names you sent appeared on the list that the UNAA Secretary submitted to the UNAA-EC. The other 12 members who did not appear on either list presented to the UNAA-EC (at the time of voting), a receipt showing that they had indeed paid their membership dues by August 1, 2017, so the EC had no basis to deny them their right to vote.

All these efforts clearly indicate that the EC acted reasonably and prudently in allowing qualified members to vote. The people who cast votes in the elections were valid UNAA members in good standing and the voter register that was used was also valid.

Election Outcome

Before the voting took place, all UNAA members and candidates were informed in advance to decide either to vote off-site or on-site, but not both on specified dates and times. Voter qualification requirements were announced (See Exhibit #3). Voting was electronically conducted. At the on-site voting location in Miami, there were voting observers. There was a voter list publicly displayed so that anyone could check his or her name on that list, and if the name was missing on the list, the matter could be handled by checking the Secretary and Treasurer’s list. In the case of omission on the list, the person concerned could be asked to produce the same voting requirement as stated above. As each person entered the voting room, he or she had to show the required identifications which were checked by commissioners while observers were watching. When the person was certified to vote, he or she received a ballot that contained a unique number. That number is for use only once. The person then proceeded to one of the four computers to vote.

Upon voting and on the way out of the room, he or she had to dip one of the fingers in ink as a means of ensuring that no one could fluke by returning to vote again. An IT consultant was on site to respond to technical issues as needed. The counting of votes and tabulation of results were performed electronically with no influence of any kind whatsoever from any one. The electronic voting system we used is called Election Buddy (https//electionbuddy.com). It uses one of the most popular, powerful and secure online election soft wares.

When the elections closed, each observer was given the opportunity to comment on or evaluate how well the elections were conducted based on what he or she actually witnessed. The petitioner was represented by two experienced election observers. Overall, all observers spoke very positively about the manner in which the elections were conducted and thanked the commissioners for the work so well done.

As stated above, based on the votes cast, Monday Atigo received 189 and Daniel Kawuma received 166 votes. Results of other candidates can be found in Exhibit #5. During the convention on September 3, 2017, you as the BOT Chair, swore in the candidates, and that marked the of the UNAA 2017 Elections.

Recommendations

These are the recommendations:
1. The BOT should take it up with the UNAA Secretary to understand why the 112 members appeared on his list of UNAA members, if indeed they did not pay their dues.

2. Seeing as the voter’s register is a perennial source of contention in UNAA elections, the UNAA-EC would like to recommend that in future, the UNAA membership list should be signed off by the UNAA Secretary (custodian of UNAA records), the UNAA Treasurer (custodian of UNAA finances), and the UNAA BOT before such a list can be sent to the UNAA members as the official list of all UNAA members.

Summary and Conclusion

It is the position of the EC that the voter register used during the 2017 UNAA elections and the election results were both valid. The EC conducted the elections according to the guidelines and dates we published. During the on-site voting, transparency was observed. UNAA members who came to the polling stations were allowed to vote if they met all the on-site voting requirements. Mechanisms were in place to ensure that no one could vote more than once. It was one eligible person, one vote. Election observers were very complementary of the manner in which the elections were conducted. The EC deserves some credit for the work so well executed. The 2017 UNAA General Elections have ended and the newly elected officials have been sworn in by the BOT and have already assumed their respective duties, since September 3, 2017. The EC has nothing else to add and we consider this matter closed.

Respectfully Submitted,
Franco Mukhwana Wantsala
Chair, UNAA Electoral Commission


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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