A recent data analysis that found discrepancies in the Uganda Electoral Commission voter count has put some voters on high alert, and consequently increased the anxiety about the upcoming presidential elections.
The data on Electoral Commission (EC) had indicated that there are 15,297,197 registered voters in Uganda. On the contrary, an independent data analysis found a 20,000 voter error margin. Here is another blog showing how we exposed the discrepancies and TMS Ruge’s breakdown of the data.
The Electoral Commission was notified about the discrepancies immediately. Instead of giving a detailed account of what happened, the commission made demeaning remarks – arguing that the analysis was baseless.
Please ignore those baseless reports! Our register is electronic and clean. Ghosts have no place on our register https://t.co/bFSow85oiF
— #AskEC2016 (@UgandaEc) February 9, 2016
But this was not good enough for the Ugandans who were eager to know what was going on. They continued to pressure the EC through its official Twitter account, demanding that the issue should be taken seriously. In the meantime, media houses started reporting on this issue – pressure was mounting on the commission.
The Spokes person of the commission, Jotham Taremwa finally agreed – that this was a “statistical error”.
Good morning- the ghost workers on the electoral register. You said baseless rumors, then statistical error.
— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) February 11, 2016
WHAT THE DATA ANALYSIS REVEALED:
Analysis of voter data per polling station revealed that some polling stations had way more (some over 400) voters than they should have while others had way less.
At Nkokonjeru Primary School, a polling station in Ruharo Parish, Mbarara District; the Electoral Commission data shows that there are 436 Female Voters and 359 Male Voters – the total voter count (Female + Male) =387. Once we analyzed the data, we found that 408 voters were not accounted for.
At Nyamitanga Muslim Pri Sch, in Katete Parish, Mbarara District; the data indicated that there are 247 Female Voters and 202 Male Voters – the total voter count according to the commission = 900. Our analysis found that this was NOT correct.
Overall I personally came to the conclusion that there are probably not just 20,000 ghost voters but many more. If the Electoral Commission indicates that there are 387 voters at a given polling station and yet when I add number of Female (436) + (359) Male voters at the same polling station I get 795 I cannot help but wonder where the commission put the missing 408.
This morning (11, February), the commission quietly took down its website and removed the document we analyzed and replaced it with a new document with changes that seem to address the concerns we had. Well, some tweeps noticed that the website was down, which forced the EC to make this lame excuse.
Our website is under routine maintenance. All inconveniences are regretted. Thank you
— #AskEC2016 (@UgandaEc) February 11, 2016
If you ask me, @UgandaEc looks really bad & incompetent right now, taking down their website after being busted with register discrepancies.
— Solomon Tumwesigye (@Soloestee) February 11, 2016
With just 5 days to the polls I am not convinced that the commission is prepared to handle emerging issues especially when they involve discrepancies.
If the commission failed to compute the sum of a couple of hundreds (as indicated above), how can they convince Ugandans that they are ready to tally millions of votes from over 28,010 polling stations country wide?
— kintu kenny (@KintuKenny) February 11, 2016
EC went into a coma after we published a simple analysis of data they should have crosschecked and rechecked many months and weeks ago. If anything, this shows how unprepared the commission is.
— JAMIL (@JAMIL613000) February 11, 2016
Even though the commission has finally realized that our analysis was NOT baseless (as it originally claimed) – seeing that EC has updated its data to match our figures, the manner in which they did it is unacceptable. With no explanation to the public. What is even worse, in the latest version of data, EC has eliminated the columns showing the number of Male and Female voters per polling station leaving just the total voter count per polling station.
Taking away the demographics makes it impossible for us or anyone else to do further analysis – and that is probably what the EC wants. But, this does not mean that there are no more loopholes in the voter registers.
.@UgandaEc That said, we need an explanation on why the male/female columns have been eliminated in the new data released. 2/3
— Evelyn Namara (@enamara) February 11, 2016
— Mulindwa (@PrinceMulindwa) February 11, 2016
.@UgandaEc Thanks for making changes to the data on your website to reflect the (15,277,197 +1) Ugandans registered to vote 1/3
— Evelyn Namara (@enamara) February 11, 2016
“Luckily”, the EC has procured handheld Biometric Voter Verification Systems and they are expected to catch any anomalies the commission might have missed. But, I have a feeling that at many of the polling stations, especially the rural ones (which are the majority in number), they will have to rely on the paper based register – because (sometimes) technology fails.
For now, I will keep crunching the voter register data as I anxiously await for the EC to deliver its promise of a “free and fair election”!