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SA expats vote despite confusion

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iol nws may 1 Britain South Africa Election [1]

AP

London polling: South African expatriates queue to cast their vote at the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square in London. Picture: AP

Cape Town - Voting abroad was exciting, frustrating and confusing, according to social media posts.

Queues in London and Dubai stretched for hours, but some expatriates worried that they weren’t represented as well as they could have been.

On Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday, South Africans around the world wondered what kind of identification they would need and when their votes would be counted. People were most confused about the paperwork. Many would-be overseas voters misunderstood that they needed a South African passport, green ID book, and the VEC10 form to vote in this year’s election.

Voters complained about long travel times and inefficient queues. Some even alleged that you had to bring your own pen. But pictures abounded of winding queues, South African flags, impromptu braais, and marked thumbs – from the UK to Australia, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Some South Africans left the Hong Kong voting station in disappointment yesterday after they were not be allowed to vote. They arrived at the consulate ready to cast their ballots only to learn they had not completed the VEC10 form for South Africans who registered to vote in a foreign country. Some people claimed they were not aware of the requirement.

Yolanda Ho, a South African who has been living in Hong Kong for 20 years, was able to vote, but saw two people frustrated at being turned back because they had not filled in the form.

“One woman was really upset and even contemplating flying to Johannesburg next week so she could vote,” she said.

Ho said it was unfortunate that some people were not aware of this. She said it could be that not a good job was done relaying enough information about the issue.

She said a friend living who lives in Holland had informed her about the VEC10. The friend had seen come across the information in a DA newsletter.

“I went to the consulate to register, but they did not tell me about this. In fact, I only found out that I had to fill in this form three days before deadline.” she said.

Aside from the disappointed South Africans, Ho said everything went smoothly.IEC spokeswoman Kate Bapela said she could not comment because she did not know much about the problem of those voters who were turned away without voting.

She said the VEC10 form had to be filled in during registration to indicate to the consulate just how many people would vote.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) needed to know the exact number of voters expected to avoid an over- or under-supply of voting material.

Bapela also said it was not or the first time South Africans abroad were voting and she was surprised some did not know they had to complete the VEC10.

Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela said it and the IEC had on January 7 invited South Africans abroad to register to vote, and clearly stated that they should also fill in the form.

Monyela said there was definitely no lack of communication.

“That's what they claim. How did the others then know about it?” he asked. - Cape Times


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