Voting Halted in Nansana Municipality Due to Switched Polling Kits

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In most of the areas visited by our reporters in Nabweru and Nansana divisions, there was a misallocation of ballots papers for both female and directly elected councilors as several polling station got ballot with featuring candidates of other electoral areas. However the error had not been noticed on different polling station for almost one and half hours.
Majid Kukulakweta, parish election supervisor Nansana East Ward, checking the switched ballots at St Joseph Catholic Church as polling assistants look on
Voting has been halted at various polling stations within Nansana Municipality in Wakiso district because of a mix-up in polling kits. There was a mix-up of the ballot papers both female and directly elected councillors at several polling stations visited by our reporter in Nabweru and Nansana divisions.

However, it took close to one and half hour for the polling officials to notice the error. At Katangawuzi polling station in 7/8 Ochieng zone, more than twenty voters had already cast their votes before the error was identified by one of the keen voters who realised that the names of the candidates were alien him. A similar incident was recorded at St. Joseph Catholic Church N-NAM polling station when Isaac Kamya, one of the voters returned the ballot.  

At first the polling constable wanted to arrest him, saying that he was taking away the ballot paper instead of casting it in the ballot box. “I explained to him that I was going to consult the presiding officer on the names of people on the ballot. I didn’t know them as candidates in our area,” said Kamya.

The presiding officer, Josephine Kyomuhendo realized that the directly elected councillor's ballot papers were for another electoral area.  “We didn’t see that after opening the polling kit in the morning, we removed the ballots and counted them but didn’t take the trouble to look out at the candidate's details on the ballot papers as the box was clearly named N-NAM and even the ballot was labelled directly elected councillors” said Kyomuhendo.

Some of the voters who had already cast their vote told URN that they didn’t read the names of candidates. “I have been ticking those with an umbrella as their symbol; I didn’t check the picture or read names. I only needed to identify the symbol that is all,” one the voters who declined to reveal her name said.  

After the incident at N-NAM polling station, presiding officers of different polling stations at the church premises decided to check the ballot papers at their respective polling station only to find that they had a similar problem. Polling stations in Lugoba, Muganzilwaza and Kazo had the same experience.

Majid Kukulakwetta, the Nansana East Ward parish election supervisor wondered what could have caused the problem, saying he picked the right polling kits. However, after calling his counterparts in different wards, they were also reporting the same challenge.

“It’s a widespread challenge in the entire municipality and voting has been halted in all places where it happened,” Kukulakwetta said moments after calling his colleagues. Tolbert Musinguzi, the Wakiso Returning Officer, says that they have realised that there was a packing error but they are trying to resolve it by identifying the right polling stations where each polling kit should be.

“That is simple, we will identify where the box must be and then voting resumes,” Musinguzi said. The error is likely to have a great impact on the voter turn up. For instance, several people who braved the Monday morning drizzle had to leave the polling stations without casting their votes.       

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