Victoria University Kampala, Uganda’s leading technologically-based university has yet again registered a landmark achievement under its Virtual Campus (VClass) after holding successful online guild elections in the voting exercise at the Jinja-Road-based University.
The e-voting application “VU Elections” which is an extended module of its now popular VClass platform allows students to exercise their voting rights by simply logging into their personal accounts, locate the VU Elections module, and getting started with the voting process.
And after gathering information on the ongoing virtual guild elections at the University, the process is so far so good, free, and fair, an act that is likely to raise eyebrows of many, and set a precedent to anyone who ever thinks of organizing a credible, yet cost-effective election.
Ms. Aturinda Precious, the Assistant Academic Registrar at Victoria University who is the overseer of the voting system says the VU Elections app has been designed and built with utmost transparency and integrity whereby a student can only vote once, and once their vote is recorded, the voting button is automatically disabled to avoid duplicate votes.
“The system gives live updates, everyone logged onto it is able to see what is happening from wherever they are. According to how the system was designed, once you do the voting, you are able to see the live statistics, including your vote. Like everyone in their student account, they are able to see what is happening,” said Ms. Aturinda.
“There’s no room for instances of vote-rigging or electoral malpractice in this system since only registered students can cast their votes, and with their Unique IDs, one cannot vote twice, since the system automatically disables the election button a student’s ID once they submit their respective votes,” She added.
The positions which students are voting for include; the Guild President, General Secretary, and Faculty Senators, and the voting is slated to close on Thursday (tomorrow) by 17:00hrs EAT with over 2000 students expected to take part in the exercise.
Commenting on the voting exercise, Victoria University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lawrence Muganga in a phone interview told this website that the adoption of the e-voting exercise shows how the University is revolutionalizing Guild Elections and urged the Uganda Electoral Commission to borrow a leaf from them for transparency and fairness in the national elections.
“This is the highest degree of election transparency that I have seen in Africa. With this technology, the Electoral Commission has a simple job which is to just organize the voting process, and hopefully, I pray that one day we see this embraced by our country,” Muganga said. Adding that, “As Victoria University we have chosen to lead with technology, solve problems with technology and contribute meaningfully to the growth of our country Uganda and the region.”
Muganga says, the technologically driven voting system aligns well with the University’s goal of transforming society which includes instilling transparency, democracy, and integrity within the students, the leaders, and the top-level management of the institution.
He called upon other institutions to pick a leaf from Victoria University to organize their subsequent guild elections to ensure, credible, free and fair elections since the process is even affordable for it saves institutions resources, triggers increased student engagement in determining their leadership, and increases accessibility and participation in the election process.
In a separate interview, Ms. Kirabo Michelle, a contestant in the two-horse Guild race, says the online voting system is amazingly efficient and welcoming, however, she says some students who cannot afford internet data, are phased out from the process.
“The system is so far efficient. Yes, it is not a bad mode of conducting elections, but some students who are unable to access data will not be able to vote,” said Ms. Kirabo. This, she says, has forced her team to incur costs of buying data for their potential electorate to be able to vote.
Saunders Harman & Marvin Ssoko – both first-year students at the university excitedly told this website that the voting system is transparent and trustworthy since it provides real-time updates allowing them to monitor their candidate’s performance anytime, anywhere.
They, however, expressed concern that some students may miss out on the voting exercise over non-activated email accounts, an issue they say would have been foregone in the traditional voting system.
By press time, voting statistics as per the system showed that Kirabo Michelle was leading the Guild race with 71% (326 votes) while her rival Abdu-Basit Kasimagwa was trailing with 29% (132 votes), on a total vote cast of 458 votes so far.