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Elections 2021: No photos in the voting booth, IEC warns

An IEC voting station entrance. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA).

An IEC voting station entrance. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA).

Published Oct 31, 2021


Durban – The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has urged citizens casting their ballots at voting stations around the country on Monday, to not take pictures of their ballot papers after marking it as it may hinder the election process.

The warning came from IEC chairman, Glen Mashinini, during a briefing on Sunday night held at the commission’s national election results centre in Tshwane.

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Asked how the IEC would be able to enforce the rule, Mashinini said: “I think the issue is not so much policing people but rather persuading people not to take 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,” he said.

“There have been instances in the past where employers, especially of domestic workers, would say go vote at the station and come back with proof that you voted in a particular way.

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“So it's about protecting the secrecy, yes at the same time protecting those vulnerable groups in society, who at the behest of their employers may be subject to abuse during that time.”

Despite the truncated timeline to prepare for the 2021 instalment of the local government elections, with 42 days as compared with the usual 82, Mashinini said the commission is confident it has done all it could to host a fair election.

Voters will have 14 hours to mark their ballots and will be able to vote for their councillor candidate and mayoral candidate of choice, as voting stations across the nation are set to open at 7am and close at 9pm.

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Some 72 million ballot papers have been printed for the local elections, all of which have been spread out across the 23 148 voting stations. A total of 323 political parties have registered and are contesting in Monday’s election.

Difficulties experienced during the voter registration process resulted in the information of 140 000 people not being captured by its system, but the IEC said measures have been put in place to ensure they are not disadvantaged.

“Those voters will be permitted to vote at the voting district at which they present themselves. This arrangement is authorised in terms of section 2 of the Municipal Election Act, which allows for voters to vote on presenting proof that they had applied for registration before the proclamation of the election,” Mashinini said.

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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 tomorrow? 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.”

Earlier, Police Minister General Bheki Cele visited hotspot voting stations in the eThekwini Municipality after stations were allegedly padlocked and barred by community members in the Mkhambathini local municipality.

Political Bureau