IRI Poll Finds Need for Voter Education in Uganda

February 9, 2006

Kampala, Uganda – An IRI survey, conducted in Uganda from January 20-24, 2006, found the need for more voter education as the country holds its first multi-party election in 26 years on February 23, 2006.

The July 2005 referendum on the multi-party system passed with the support of 93 percent of voters. Thus, the no-party or Movement System of government will end after this month's election.  However, nearly a majority, 49 percent, of Ugandans believe the Movement System will continue to operate after the February 23 elections.

In addition, only 53 percent of Ugandans know the presidential election will be held on February 23, and only 33 percent are aware that parliamentary elections will be held on the same date.  Only 11 percent knew local council elections are scheduled for February 28, 2006.  Furthermore, an overwhelming 79 percent of those sampled believe a voters' card is required for voting when Ugandan election law stipulates that no voter card is necessary in order to cast a ballot.  A significant majority of 57 percent believe that their photograph needs to appear on the voters' register for them to vote, though this not actually a legal requirement.

The findings in IRI's poll demonstrate a need for further voter education in Uganda.  According to IRI's survey, 78 percent of respondents reported that radio is their primary source of political information and news, while only two percent cited newspapers.

Regarding the upcoming election, Ugandans are confident there will be little election intimidation or violence, with only 17 percent citing such incidences.  Additionally, the Electoral Commission in Uganda has the trust of 60 percent of survey respondents, which suggests relative confidence in the organizing body.

As political parties are newly legalized, the Institute's poll notes the continued upward trend in political party affiliation.  IRI's May 2005 poll indicated 62 percent of Ugandans feel close to a political party or organization; its most recent poll indicates an increase in just nine months to 72 percent.  The growing numbers of people who feel close to political parties or organizations suggest an increasing level of comfort among Ugandans to freely express their political views through party membership.

The findings reflect the result of 1,200 face-to-face interviews conducted in both urban and rural areas in 46 of Uganda's 69 functional districts between January 20-24, 2006.  Respondents were selected based on a scientific random sampling procedure, in accordance with international polling standards. The overall margin of error for the survey is +/- three percent.