Home South African New legislation could pave the way for electronic voting

New legislation could pave the way for electronic voting

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New legislation is on the cards that will allow the IEC to explore different voting methods including electronic voting.

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NEW legislation is on the cards that will allow the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to explore different voting methods including electronic voting.

This emerged from the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, which Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi intends introducing in Parliament.

Motsoaledi wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo last week notifying them of his intention to introduce the bill ahead of the local government elections next year.

“The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill was approved by cabinet on 25 August 2020 for introduction into Parliament,” Motsoaledi wrote in his letter.

The bill seeks to amend the Electoral Commission Act, the Electoral Act and the Municipal Electoral Act.

The memorandum of the bill states that there are no additional personnel implications as a result of the introduction of the bill.

“Most of the amendments proposed by this bill relate to normal operations related to elections. For this reason, the financial implications thereof have already been taken into account when compiling the budget for those elections.”

Last month, the cabinet said the amendments would amongst others introduce innovations in electoral practices in keeping with best practices to improve the IEC efficiency in managing elections.

In terms of the bill, the Electoral Act will be amended in order to provide the IEC to prescribe for the different voting methods or procedures such as electronic voting.

“Despite anything to the contrary contained in this act or any other law, the commission may prescribe a different voting method,” read the bill.

The bill also aims to amend the Electoral Commission Act to authorise the IEC to streamline and regulate the application procedure for registration of parties intending to contest municipal elections in a particular municipality.

“The amendment will also allow for the registration of parties wishing to contest elections at metropolitan and district municipalities. The envisaged procedure includes objections for the registration of parties and appeal processes.”

It said persons unhappy by a decision of not registering a party may within 30 days, appeal against the decision.

This also applies to any person who objected to an application where a party was registered.

The bill also plans to amend the Electoral Act for the provision of the voters’ roll or a segment of it that includes addresses of voters to political parties and independent candidates on payment of certain fee to the chief electoral officer for purposes of electioneering.

“The chief electoral office may, however, refuse or retract certain personal information of a voter where it is necessary to do so,” reads the proposed legislation.

In August, the IEC told the portfolio committee on home affairs that the electoral laws need to be in line with the Protection of Personal Information Act.

The bill also makes a provision for a voter who is unable on a voting day to cast his or her vote in a voting station where a voter is registered to inform the chief electoral officer so that a voter is able to vote in another voting district within the country.

It also allows voters who will be outside their registration area to cast a special vote at a designated place after informing the chief electoral officer of intention to do so.

“This includes voters who are ordinarily resident outside the republic. This provision automatically allows for voters, who are outside the republic and whose names appear on the international segment of the voters roll and intend to vote at the embassy, consulate or high commission where they are registered, to do so.”