What the U.S. could learn about election reform from Uganda. Yes, Uganda...
By Steve Heller on 2/17/2009, 5:35am PT  

Guest blogged by Steve Heller of VelvetRevolution.us

The New Vision (which bills itself as "Uganda's leading website") is reporting under the headline, "Election thieves to be imprisoned", that the Ugandan Electoral Commission is advocating several reforms to Uganda's election laws, and a number of them are excellent ideas which the United States would do well to emulate.

Among these reforms are:

Heavy fines for electoral offenders. "Politicians found guilty of cheating in elections will be sent to prison for up to two years or made to pay heavy fines if a new proposal by the Electoral Commission (EC) becomes a law." [snip] "The opposition coalition also wants the electoral law to be amended so that the EC is given power to disqualify candidates involved in rigging or other election malpractices for at least seven years."

Sounds like a great idea! And in America, we'd also like to extend that law to any and all election officials and even private citizens who are convicted of violating election laws. This would include issuing disinformation about voting or registration, illegal purges of the voter rolls, and ignoring state laws regarding the certification of election results.

Period of declaration of results should be increased from 48 hours to a week. Apparently, under current Ugandan law the results from each precinct are required to be certified and turned in within 48 hours. The Commission wants to extend that time limit to one week. "Though opposition parties oppose the proposal, the commission says it is difficult to secure securing [sic] the results from all returning officers within 48 hours."

It seems that Uganda understands what many American election officials and even many American voters don't --- that the accuracy of the results and the importance of counting every vote are more important than speed. Waiting a few days or even a few weeks for election results is well worth it if the extra time will lead to correct, every-vote-counted-and-counted-accurately results.

American politicians and election officials could learn some lessons from Uganda!