IEC bans selfies in booths

Time of article published May 5, 2014

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Simone Alicea

THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has prepared for any possible election day catastrophe – including voter selfies.

The IEC put out a statement yesterday discouraging selfies in the voting booth, saying that it spoils the secrecy of the vote.

If you wanted to take a picture of yourself participating in democracy, the IEC said: “It is an offence to take and/or publish photographs which reveal a person’s vote on a ballot paper” – even if that vote is your own.

“Upon conviction, offenders will be liable to a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.”

The announcement was sparked by a flood of voter selfies from abroad last week when expats took to the polls. South Africans around the world took pictures of themselves and their ballots.

“While taking a camera or photographic equipment into the voting booth is prohibited, it is not feasible to remove every voter’s cellphone,” it said.

The announcement made the rounds on Twitter, and some were disappointed.

“Damn, there goes my voting selfie!” said user @cat_drowley.

But there is hope if you want to document the special day.

Voters are allowed to take pictures of themselves in the queue before they vote, or outside of the booth after their thumbs have been marked.

Even though you shouldn’t use your phone in the booth, the IEC released three mobile apps this weekend that will help you vote and keep track of results.

“Voters will be able to access and follow the 2014 elections results in real time through their mobile devices,” IEC chief information officer Libisi Maphanga, said.

The IEC app for phones and tablets provides personal voter information and general election information.

The free app is available on all major platforms, including some non-touchscreen phones.

The second app is a game called IXSA aimed at young voters.

The game allows users to follow a character through election day, facing typical voter challenges.

Players can then post their scores on social media.

The game is free for download for Android and Apple and can be played on Facebook.

“This game is about making the voting process accessible to young people in a format they are familiar with,” deputy chief electoral officer Nomsa Masuku said.

The third app is aimed at media and political parties, and would allow them to run up-to-date election information on their own platforms straight from the IEC.

For information about how to download the apps, visit the IEC website under the “For Voters” tab.

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