South African nationals wait to be registered with election officials to cast their vote at South Africa High Commission at Trafalgar Square in central London ahead of May 7 South Africa general elections, Wednesday, April 30, 2014.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

 Political writer Craig Dodds guides you through doing your democratic duty on May 7.

* Get out of bed. Yes, it’s a public holiday, but that’s because its V-Day.

Check the time – voting stations are open between 7am and 9pm.

* Remind yourself whether or not you’re registered, and where (hint: you can still check online at, TEXT your ID number to 32810 or phone 0800 11 8000)

* If the answer is no, get back in bed – you’re wasting your time.

* Otherwise, head for the voting station where you’re registered. Don’t forget to pack your barcoded ID or temporary ID certificate.

* You can vote at any voting station in the country but if you do so outside the province where you live you can vote only in the national elections.

* Get in the queue and enjoy the company of your fellow South Africans. It’s not often we all do something together.

* Someone called a queue walker will scan your ID to confirm your registration and you will move to the table where another official checks your name against the voters roll.

* Don’t panic if it’s not there. The presiding officer will check your proof of registration (pasted in your ID).

If you don’t have such proof you’re probably not registered and, er, you can go home and try again five years from now. Otherwise you’ll be asked to fill in a form and then proceed.

* If your name is on the roll it will be marked, your ID will be stamped and your thumbnail inked to show you’ve voted. You can’t do so again, even if you’re really keen.

* At the next table you’ll get what you came for – a ballot paper.

Actually you’ll get two if you are voting inside your home province – one for the national poll and one for the provincial. They’ll be stamped to show they were issued correctly.

* Head for the voting booth. Now is the fleeting moment when you get to feel like the boss. You get to choose which party (and its candidates) should run the country, and the province, by making a cross next to it on the ballot paper – one for national and one for provincial.

Don’t stray over the lines when you make your mark or your vote will be counted among the spoilt ballots.

* If you do happen to make a blaps, you can still ask for another paper – just do it before putting the ballot in the box. Your dodgy ballot paper must be marked as “cancelled”.

* Put your ballot papers in the correct box (national and provincial again). and allow yourself a smile – you’ve done your democratic duty.

Political Bureau