IEC working towards online voter registration

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CEO of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Sy Mamabolo, says the commission is working towards enabling online voter registration.

The IEC appeared before Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee to discuss its annual performance plan and budget for 2021/2022.

South Africans will vote in local government elections in October.

Mamabolo says online voter registration would be a valuable tool in efforts to be COVID-19 compliant.

“Online registration is important in COVID context. It will allow, with necessary safeguards, to ensure those with smart devices and broadband can register without being in queues. We plan to have that capability available by, let’s say, the middle of June.”

COVID-19 measures compliance

Mamabolo says the commission is considering which measures to put in place to ensure that all voting stations are COVID-19 compliant.

He says the measures will supplement social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitising.

“What we are now looking at (are) additional measures proposed, which relate to how (to) use special votes to creatively manage congestion at voting stations, people at a certain age receiving special votes and people with certain commodities being granted the special vote, and so on.”

Voter registration weekend

Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, Glen Mashinini, says in an effort to adapt to a leaner budget, only one voter registration weekend will be held in the run-up to the local government elections in October.

IEC will soon embark on national voter registration:

Mashinini says the IEC has had to take into account significant budget cuts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

“To accommodate some of those shortfalls, the commission, unfortunately, had to only provide for one registration weekend, as opposed to what we normally do, which is two. But there would be ongoing registration at municipal offices. So, people shouldn’t only wait for registration weekend.”

IEC committed to credible election

Mashinini has assured Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee that despite significant budget cuts, the electoral body is committed to delivering a credible local government election in October.

The commission says it had to scale down on training and incurred additional costs related to COVID-19 compliance, but Mashinini says this will not hamper their work.

“I think important to emphasise, we have to point out those constraints. We are not saying the election compromised. We will be able to deliver the election with the resources and savings we have identified.”