With the local government elections well under way, some voters have been taking pictures of their marked ballot papers, despite a stern warning from the IEC.
WITH the local government elections well under way, some voters in parts of the country have been taking pictures of their marked ballot papers, despite a stern warning by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), which said that it may hinder the election process.
The images of the ballots were seen on Twitter on Monday, posted by citizens who voted for the EFF and ActionSA. The Twitter handles do not immediately identify the voters and guarantees them some anonymity. Both party leaders, Julius Malema and Herman Mashaba, liked the tweets with their respective party’s marked on the ballot.
The warning about taking pictures of ballot papers in the voting booth came from IEC’s chairperson, Glen Mashinini, during a briefing on Sunday night, held at the commission’s election results centre in Tshwane.
The IEC was asked how they would be able to enforce the rule, to which it replied: “I think the issue is not so much policing people, but rather persuading people from taking photographs of the marked ballots.
“This is to protect the secrecy of their votes because that possibility of taking a (picture) of a marked ballot can be used quite nefariously. There have been instances in the past where employers, especially for domestic workers, would say go vote at the station and come back with proof that you voted in a particular way.
“So it’s about protecting the secrecy, yet, at the same time, protecting those vulnerable groups in society, who may – at the behest of their employers – may be subject to abuse during that time,” the IEC said.
Despite the truncated timeline to prepare for the 2021 instalment of the local government elections, with 41 days as compared to the usual 82, Mashinini said the commission is confident and has done all it could to host a free and fair election.
The commission said it has worked tirelessly with security clusters, media and other organisations to put together the platform to host an election.
“Can we guarantee that there won’t be disruptions? No. What we can guarantee is our commitment to ensure that all stations open and everybody is availed of an opportunity to cast their ballots,” the IEC said on Sunday night.
– Political Bureau