Saturday, January 1, 2011

Yes, Besigye can legally announce poll results

In this star letter published on Thursday, a Daily Monitor reader justifies Dr. Kizza Besigye's plan to  announce the election results

As the country prepares for the forthcoming presidential elections, it is important for us to consider the question as to whether it is possible for Dr Kizza Besigye [the Inter-Party Cooperation] presidential flag bearer to announce election results.

The answer is a big yes because the results are announced to the public at every polling station immediately after voting has ended. This is in accordance with the Constitution which states in Article 68 as follows:

l Immediately after the close of the poll, the presiding officer shall proceed to count the votes at the polling station, the ballot papers of that station and record the votes cast in favour of each candidate.

l The presiding officer, the candidates or their representatives if any, shall sign and retain a copy of a declaration stating:

- the polling station.
- the number of votes cast in favour of every candidate.
The presiding officer shall then announce the results of voting at that polling station before communicating them to the returning officer.

What Dr Besigye or any other presidential candidate needs to do is to have a representative at each polling station.

The representative will retain a copy of the form bearing the results which copy will have been signed by the presiding officer and countersigned by the candidates’ representative present.

On the basis of the copies collected at all polling stations, the results can be totalled or tallied. There is no big deal in tallying of results.

Incidentally, it is advisable for the NRM to also have a parallel vote tally. This will help them to have an independent source of information and to track the elections.

I have on many occasions advised political parties and others interested in doing a national tally of results that they must ensure that they have representatives at each polling station.

Secondly, when they have tallied their results, they should be calm and avoid excitement until the Electoral Commission announces the official results.

Another caution is that the parties should avoid relaying the results using sms messages. A tally of results in a situation like ours must be based on hard copies signed by the presiding officers or else it can result in unnecessary tensions which may lead to violence.

If anyone feels that the results have been falsified, the solution is to go to court and use the results compiled by the aggrieved side as evidence. This is the civilised way of solving election disputes.

David Byakutaga,

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