20 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH AFRICAVoting stations will be open from 7am – 9pm on 7 May 2014.
The Halo Media team have heard some rumours and do’s and don’t for the upcoming election, and we had a few questions of our own, so we did a bit of investigating and have compiled some useful information to help you make your mark on election day.
2014 marks 20 years of democracy in South Africa, but the road was fraught by decades of discrimination and oppression, both racially and economically. The struggles of the liberation movements here and abroad lead to the unbanning of establishments, and during a transition period, the negotiating of a democratic constitution for all South Africans. For the first time, millions of eligible South Africans cast their vote on 27 April 1994. It marked the end of apartheid and laid the foundations to a new Constitution. Today, South Africa is a new country and this year, the ‘Born-Free’ generation vote for the first time for the party that will lead South Africa for the next 5 years.
What are we voting for?
This year we are voting for both the National and Provincial elections, so you are voting for a political party to get seats in the national government as well as a vote for a political party or ward councillor to get municipal seats. If you reside in a metropolitan area you will receive two ballots, 1 for a party and 1 for a ward councillor. If you live in a local council with wards you will get 3 ballots – 1 for a ward councillor for the Local council, 1 for a party for the Local Council and 1 for the party for the District council. You do not have to vote for the same party for the national and provincial elections.
Why vote in the election?
It is your democratic right to vote in the elections and it is your chance to vote for the party you want in government at a national and provincial level. You can either vote for the same party as the previous election or you can change your vote and support a new party. By voting you are helping to build and maintain democracy in South Africa.
As a voter, you have certain rights:
1. The right to a free and fair election
2. The right to vote
3. The right not to vote
4. The right to spoil your vote
5. The right to vote ONCE in your voting district
6. The right to your own FREE choice
7. The right to a SECRET vote
8. The right to get help to vote
9. The right to vote safely
10. The right to make a complaint
Before you go vote in our elections!
Are you registered to vote on the National Voters Roll or if you don’t know where you are registered to vote in the elections, check https://www.elections.org.za/content/For-voters/My-voter-registration-details/ online or SMS your ID number to 32810.
What to take to the voting station if you are registered to vote in this election?
- You MUST take your valid bar-coded identity document (bar-coded, green ID book, smart card ID or temporary identity certificate) as you will NOT be allowed to vote without it.
- A black pen (although pens will be provided at the polling station, you may wish to take your own)
- Bottled water and an umbrella in case of a long wait.
- If you do not want the special ink to ruin your nail polish, remove your nail polish before going and you can always paint over the mark once you have voted.
Casting your election vote – the procedure:
The voting officer will check that your name appears on the voters’ roll*. When the voting officer is satisfied that you have the correct ID, you are a registered voter and have not already voted, your name is marked off the roll, your ID is stamped on the second page and your thumbnail is inked. This special ink will not wash off for a few days. The voting officer stamps the back of the correct number of official ballot papers (one per election) and gives them to you. Each ballot paper has a list of all registered political parties contesting the elections. Alongside each party name is the photograph of its leader, the party’s logo and blocks in which voters make their mark.
(If you are not on the voters’ roll, but have proof that you have registered (e.g. registration sticker), the Presiding Officer must validate your proof of registration. If he/she is satisfied with the proof, you must complete a VEC4 form (national elections) or MEC7 form (municipal elections) and will then be allowed to continue as an ordinary voter for the election.)
• Proceed ALONE to a vacant private polling booth
• Read the instructions printed on the ballot papers
• Fill in the ballot papers
• Fold the ballot papers to conceal your vote
• Put each ballot paper separately in the appropriate ballot box
• Leave the polling place when finished
• Be aware that assistance is available if required
Physically disabled voters: If you are physically disabled or visually impaired, you can choose someone to help you at the voting station. The Presiding Officer can also help you cast your vote, but an observer and, if available, two agents from different parties must be present.
Incorrect ballot: If you incorrectly mark a ballot paper and realise this BEFORE placing the paper in the ballot box, just ask the Presiding Officer for a new ballot paper. Please make sure that the incorrect ballot paper is marked as “cancelled”. Once your ballot has been placed in the ballot box, it CANNOT be removed.
Objections: You should object if you see a voter has been given too many ballot papers, refused a ballot paper, or you have complaints about the conduct of a voting officer, party agent or any other person present.
At the Voting booth: Whether it’s a tick or an X that marks the spot, the IEC says that your vote will be valid, as long as you place it on the line next the party you are voting for. If you mark the ballot with anything other than a cross or tick, or mark more than one party, your vote will be considered INVALID.
DO NOT take any photos of yourself inside the voting station
DO NOT take photos of the ballot papers
DO NOT take photos of the members of the IEC staff inside the voting station
You may take a photo and publish your voter mark on your fingernail once you are OUTSIDE the voting station to show your participation in the elections.
“It is an offence to take and/or publish photographs which reveal a person’s vote on a ballot paper. Upon conviction offenders will be liable to a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year,” said Independent Electoral Commission of SA spokesperson Kate Bapela.
Do not be alarmed or frightened if you see police outside your polling station, they are there as a security measure. The police are not allowed inside the actual area where the booths are located, but may patrol the perimeter and stand guard at the gates. However, the electoral officer may call them into the voting area if he or she believes it is necessary.