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All you need to know about voting


As the August 3 local government elections draw nearer, it is important for eligible voters to know the dos and don’ts of voting.

With so many political parties and candidates to choose from – 200 and 61 000 respectively – the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is hoping for a high voter turnout.

To be able to vote, make sure you have the old green bar-coded identity document, new smartcard version or a temporary identity certificate. If you have lost or misplaced your ID, you can apply for a replacement at the Department of Home Affairs’ offices, which are now open six days a week – from Monday to Saturday. There are things that are allowed and not allowed inside the voting station. These include asking for help with your voting. However, under section 39 of the Electoral Act, disabled and blind voters can ask the presiding officers to take them through the process.

On entering the voting station after producing your ID, IEC officials will scan it to check if you are registered to vote at that particular voting station and if your name is on the voters’ roll. Once that is confirmed, your name will be crossed out of the list. If you are not on the voters’ roll but you have a sticker in your ID confirming you registered, you will be asked to fill in an MEC7 form that allows you to vote.

You will then proceed to the inking station, where an IEC official will mark your left thumb nail with indelible ink to show you voted. At the next station you will receive three different ballot papers. People living in the Johannesburg Metro, for example, will receive two ballot papers, while those living outside will receive three.

The white ward ballot paper will have a list of names of candidates contesting a ward seat in the council. If the candidate is representing a political party, the candidate’s name will be followed by the party’s logo. If the candidate is independent, his or her name will be followed by a head-and-shoulders photograph and the letters “IND”.

The second is the yellow council proportional representation (PR) candidates’ ballot. The third is the green district council PR ballot paper. The ballot papers will be stamped by IEC officials before you proceed to a voting booth where you will make a mark next to your preferred candidate in secret. If you make a mistake or change your mind about who you voted for, you can ask an IEC official for a new unmarked ballot paper. You are allowed two ballot papers. Once you have finished voting, place your ballot paper in the ballot box.

A presiding officer and deputy presiding officer are on hand to ensure that the voting is free and fair. Also available will be local and international election observers who will keep an eye on the proceedings.