IEC ‘pulling all stops’ to ensure smooth and safe by-elections voter registration this weekend

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Voter registration will be held on the 3rd  and 4th of October for the 96 municipal ward by-elections scheduled to take place on 11 November. The by-elections, which will take place in 56 municipalities across the country, are expected to affect over 600 000 registered voters.

The IEC says it is eager to fulfil its mandate and is holding the by-elections at the earliest possible and practical time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

IEC Chief Executive Officer Sy Mamabolo says the commission has been unable to hold elections since March this year and plans to clear the backlog of all outstanding by elections simultaneously on 11 November.

“We are pulling all stops to ensure all our staff is fully kitted out in PPE, the voting stations that are used are properly prepared, and that those who want to enlist to be voters or those who have changed addresses be given that opportunity to change addresses. So, we are ready to receive them on both Saturday and Sunday,” says Mamabolo.

He says the registration drive this weekend will be held under strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of voters, election staff, party agents and observers.

Voting stations will open from 08:00 to 17:00 hours to allow for new eligible voters to register and also for current voters to check their registration details and update their addresses if necessary.

“Those that are coming to the registration stations this weekend must bring along a face mask or any other covering for the mouth and nose. They must expect to be kept apart from each other in terms of the social distancing protocol. They can expect to be sanitised at the entrance as well as the exit. We encourage persons coming to bring along a pen, but we will provide it and sanitise it between use, but I think it is even safer if everyone was to bring their pens,” says Mamabolo.

Mamabolo says a documented proof of address or municipal account is not required to vote, but has reminded voters that it is a criminal offence to register and vote in a ward in which they are not ordinarily resident.

“Firstly, we are very happy with the progress that we have made since 2016 with the number of people who have complete addresses on the voters roll. That figure has risen to 94% and we are happy with that progress. Those voters for whom we still don’t have an address do not lose their right to vote. However, they will be expected to produce a result on election day before they are allowed to vote and a determination needs to be made whether they are in the right ward or not. There is a legal procedure that we have proposed to parliament that will enable them to vote.”

Voters already registered may also check their registration status online on www.elections.org.za/ieconline/ or SMS their ID number to 32810 at a cost of 1R per SMS.