Sunday, August 26, 2012
VOTING AND DIVISIONS IN THE PARLIAMENT OF UGANDA
Source: The Clerk to Parliament VOTING IN PARLIAMENT Decisions in Parliament are arrived at through voting. Voting refers to a formal expression of preference on a matter or issue under consideration. TYPES OF VOTING The Parliament of Uganda practices the following types of voting: Voice voting Secret vote Roll Call Tally and; Division Show of hands. VOICE VOTING This refers to voting by Members’ pronouncement of ‘Ayes’ or ‘Nays’ when a question has been put by the Speaker or Chairperson. The Speaker/Chairperson shall then declare the results. SECRET VOTE The secret vote is a voting method in which a voter’s choice on a matter or election is expressed confidentially. The key aim is to ensure the Member records a sincere choice without fear or favour or undue influence. In Parliament, this method of voting may be used: To decide on any matter under consideration in the House; During the election or removal of a person holding office under the Constitution or any other law; and Removal of a Parliamentary Commissioner. ROLL CALL AND TALLY This involves calling out Members’ names from the attendance register to ascertain the preference of vote of each Member as either an ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay.’ In Parliament, Roll Call and tallying is done when: Voting at the 2nd and 3rd reading of the Bill for an Act of Parliament or to amend a provision of the Constitution Censuring a Minister. Deciding on an appeal from the President or a reference from the Appointments Committee under Rule 146 of the Rules of Procedure. DIVISION A division is one of the forms in which the decision of the House is ascertained. Normally, when a motion is put to the House Members for and against it indicate their opinion by saying ‘Aye’ or ‘No’ from their seats. The Speaker goes by the voices and declares that the motion is either accepted or not by the House. If the declaration is challenged, the Speaker orders that the lobbies be cleared. The division bell is then rung and as entire network of ells installed in the various parts and rooms in Parliament House and Parliament House Annex. Members rush to the Chamber from all sides heading to the call. After the bells stop, all doors to the Chamber are closed and nobody can enter or leave the Chamber till the division is over. RULES PERTAINING TO A DIVISION Whereafter the Speaker or the Chairperson has announced the results of the voting and immediately forty or more Members stand in their places signifying their disapproval of the outcome of the vote, the Speaker or Chairperson shall order for a division; on the other hand, the Speaker or Chairperson can order for a division at his/her discretion. When a division has been ordered, the lobbies shall be cleared for the purpose. The Speaker or the Chairperson shall direct the ‘Ayes’ into the lobby on his/her right and the ‘Nays’ into the lobby on his/her left and appoint two tellers for each lobby and one for those who abstain to count the votes. The tellers then take positions by the rear doors to the respective lobbies and all Members shall enter the lobbies by those rear doors and shall leave through the fore doors back to the Chamber. “Fore doors” refers to those doors on the sides of the Chamber nearest to the Speaker; while “rear doors” refer to those doors on the sides of the Chamber furthest from the Speaker. The Members shall then have their names recorded as they pass through the rear doors although Members who are incapacitated by some physical infirmity or disability shall for purposes of a division be counted and recorded in the House. The Speaker shall then direct that the rear doors giving access to the division lobbies from the Chamber be closed. Names of Members wishing to abstain shall also be recorded and finally; When all Members wishing to vote have left the division lobbies, the tellers shall return to the Chamber and shall report the number of those who have voted in their respective lobbies, and those who have abstained, to the Speaker or the Chairperson, who shall then declare the results of the division. The rear doors giving access to the lobbies from the Chamber shall then be unlocked. In the case of error occurring in the course of a division concerning the numbers recorded which cannot otherwise be corrected; the Speaker or the Chairperson shall direct the House or the Committee to proceed to another division. VOTING IN ERROR Where a Member states that he/she voted in error or that his/her vote was counted wrongly, he/she may, immediately before the Speaker announce the figures and before the Speaker declares the results of the division, move to have his/her vote correctly recorded. EQUALITY OF VOTES If the numbers in a division are equal, the motion shall be considered lost. VOTING BY SHOWING HANDS This arises when a question has been put up by the Speaker for a vote and Members express their preference by show of hands. The Speaker then asks separately the Members to indicate by raising their hands to indicate ayes or nays and abstention, for the Clerk to count. ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE The person presiding in Parliament or Committee shall not be eligible to vote. The Speaker or Deputy Speaker, Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson of a Committee while not presiding, shall retain his/her right to debate and vote. A Vice-President, Prime Minister or a Minister who by virtue of article 78 of the Constitution, is an ex-officio Member of Parliament, shall not be eligible to vote in the House. A Member having any interest in any matter before the House shall declare the nature of his/her interest in the matter and shall not vote on any question relating to that matter. Where a Member fails to declare his/her interest any other Member may raise the matter in the House and the Speaker may order that member not to vote to the matter and may refer the conduct of that Member to the Rules, Privileges and Discipline Committee for investigation and recommendation to the House for action it may consider appropriate.