File picture: Itumeleng English/ANA
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) may be forced to adopt the “two-envelope system” for next year’s general elections.

The system was used for 2016 Tlokwe by-elections in the North West, which were ordered by the Constitutional Court after independent candidates accused the IEC of providing them with a voters’ roll without addresses.

The system will isolate ballot papers of voters whose addresses are not on the voters’ roll, but are entitled to cast their votes at the polling station. It will also ensure that disputed ballots are counted separately.

In June 2016, the Constitutional Court set aside the Tlokwe by-elections and ordered they be rerun.

The IEC is back at the apex court seeking a 17-month extension to the June 2018 deadline to have addresses of all voters captured in the voters’ roll.

Aaron Mhlope, one of the independent candidates who took the IEC to court, told the Constitutional Court that the extension sought by the commission should not be granted because the two-envelope system had been deployed successfully at the Tlokwe by-elections.

According to Mhlope’s opposing affidavit, the two-envelope system would safeguard the 2019 elections and ensure they were free and fair.

”It will act as a deterrent for fraudulent voters to present themselves at voting stations in them having been compelled to provide their addresses and expose themselves to criminal prosecution,” reads Mhlope’s affidavit.

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the two-envelope system was unworkable nationally. 

“Some of the initiatives that the commission is able to employ in by-elections are not necessarily translatable to a general election,” said Mamabolo.

The IEC’s urgent application for the extension of the suspension of the declaration of invalidity is set down for August 29.

Weekend Argus