Covering the electoral process: 15 questions journalists should keep at the back of their mind

This is the third part of our series looking at the key issues journalists should pay attention to while covering Uganda’s forthcoming election. 

In our previous issues, we have tackled issues concerning voters’ rights as well as candidates and political parties. Today we sum it up with the electoral process as a whole. 

In particular, we cover questions that journalists and the media, as the watchdogs of society, should keep at the back of their mind to ensure that their reporting interrogates the fairness and credibility of the electoral process. 

  1. Are voters’ lists complete?
  2. Are voters left out able to get on the list by showing valid identification?
  3. Are the ballots easily understood by voters who cannot read?
  4. Do voters easily understand the voting instructions?
  5. Are there enough ballot papers, ballot boxes, and biometric machines?
  6. Are there enough officials to superintend over the voting exercise and to count the votes?
  7. Are there security arrangements to protect the people going to vote?
  8. Are there security arrangements to protect the ballot boxes so nobody can stuff them with false ballots?
  9. Is the Electoral Commission seen as impartial, independent and honest?
  10. Are all competing parties allowed to deploy their election officials/ agents at polling stations?
  11. Does the Electoral Commission respond quickly to complaints from the media, the voters, and the political parties about all alleged violations of the electoral laws? Are violators penalised in any way?
  12. Are the media, non-governmental organisations, and international observers able to monitor and report to the public on the election process without interference or fear?
  13. Are the state media providing reliable coverage of all the candidates and parties? Is the coverage accurate, impartial, responsible, and fair?
  14. Do the private media — newspapers, radio, television, online-only news sites — provide reliable and fair reporting? 
  15. Do the private media treat all parties’ advertising equally?

These questions are adopted from the Guidelines for media coverage of elections in Uganda – Revised 2020. To download the guidelines, visit the Uganda Journalists Resource Centre.

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