Voters not allowed to take photos of marked ballot papers
After special votes came to a close on Sunday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) held a briefing on its state of readiness ahead of the 2021 local government elections on Monday.
During the briefing on Sunday evening, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini indicated that the commission was “very confident that all systems are good” for election day following a successful two-day special voting.
Mashinini said 83% of those registered for a special vote cast their ballot this weekend.
“As of [6 pm], 502,837 out of 602,780 voters had been approved to vote as specials voters, and of those, we now know that 83% were able to cast their votes.
“We are please as the commission that such a large number of special voters, for the first time due to the Covid environment, were able to achieve this particular task,” he said.
The IEC chair said that the voters who were unable to cast a special vote for whatever reason may still cast their ballot at their voting stations on election day.
Mashinini pointed out that voters who live in a metropolitan area will receive two ballots.
“One for award candidate and one for the political party. In addition, voters in local municipalities will receive a third ballot paper for the district council. Each ballot paper must be stamped on the reverse side to indicate the authenticity of the ballot during the counting process,” he added.
Voters must vote where they are registered and must bring their IDs.
The IEC chair said citizens whose registration details were not captured or updated on the commission’s system are allowed to vote on election day.
“In order to ensure that they are not disenfranchised, but would participate […] these voters will be permitted to vote as though their details were on the voters roll segment of the voting district in which they present themselves.
“This arrangement is authorized in terms of Section 72 of the Municipal Act, which allows a voter to be permitted to vote on presenting proof that they had applied for registration before the proclamation of an election,” he added.
The IEC chair also said voters were prohibited to take photos of their marked ballot papers.
Meanwhile, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo explained further on the matter.
“I think the issue is not so much [about] policing people, but rather persuading people to desist from taking the photograph of the marked ballot.
“Why? This is to protect the secrecy of their votes because the possibility of taking a marked ballot can be used quite nefariously.
“There have been instances in the past where employers, especially for domestic workers, would say go to the [voting] station […] mark your ballot paper in a particular way and come back with proof that you voted in a particular way.
“So it is about protecting the secrecy yet at the same time protecting those vulnerable groups in society who may be, at the behest of their bosses and employers, subject to abuse,” Mamabolo said.
You can bring your pen
While the commission will provide sanitized pens at voting stations, Mashinini said the electoral body encourages voters to bring their own.
As a further measure to prevent the spread of the virus at voting stations, the IEC chair added that the commission would also be imposing strict protocols such as social distancing and the wearing of masks on election day.
The 2021 local government elections are set to take place on 1 November, and it will mark South Africa’s sixth municipal elections since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
The first democratic municipal elections took place in 1995 and 1996, while the first municipal elections run by the IEC took place in 2000.
The previous municipal elections were held in 2016.
The IEC on Tuesday revealed that it will proclaim and announce the election results on Thursday, 4 November.