The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has welcomed the removal of two clauses from the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs.

The retracted clauses sought to have allowed the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to replace the current manual voting system with an electronic one.

The Bill was introduced this week in preparation for the 2021 Local Government Elections.

“The moment you undermine the level of perception cast that the electorate can have on the system you really are down a dangerous road. We have seen in first world countries with highly reliable state infrastructure that these systems of electronic voting do not always go as smoothly as people think. So it is perhaps one of those areas where the good old paper ballot ensures – despites is flaws – that elections can be trusted and understood by the ordinary voter,” says Hermann Pretorius, IRR’s Head of Strategic Initiatives.

Discussion on the removal of clauses 14 and 21 from the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill:

The IEC told Parliament in July that it was also considering piloting e-voting. However, such a pilot project would require additional funding from the National Treasury.

The country is gearing for local government elections in 2021, but it’s unclear what the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the polls will be.