(File, Getty Images)
Millions of South Africans will on Wednesday go to the polls to elect our next national and provincial governments. If it is your first time, or you need a refresher – this is what you need to know.
So, anybody over 18 can vote, right?
No. You must be registered to vote. You can SMS your ID to 32810 or call 0800 11 8000 to check on your registration and voting station details. The Electoral Commission’s contact centre will be open between 07:00 and 21:00 to assist voters with any queries.
When can I vote?
Voting stations will open at 07:00 and close at 21:00, when the big count commences.
Where do I vote?
If you’re a registered voter, you can vote at any voting station. However, if you vote outside the province where you are registered, you can only vote on the national ballot.
What do I need?
You must take a valid ID document along. This is either a green barcoded ID book, a smartcard ID or a valid temporary ID certificate. Branches of the Department of Home Affairs will be open should voters urgently need a temporary ID certificate.
Voters whose addresses are not reflected on the voters’ roll will be required to provide their address prior to voting. Proof of address is not required.
How does the process work?
Show your green, barcoded, South African ID book or a temporary identification certificate to the voting officer at the voting station. The voting officer will check that your name appears on the voters’ roll. 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 or 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.
Once the voting officer is satisfied that you have the correct ID, 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. The voting officer stamps the back of the correct number of official ballot papers (one per election) and gives them to you.
Take your ballot papers to an empty ballot booth, mark the ballot paper, fold it so that your choice isn’t visible and place the ballot paper in the ballot box. You can only vote once in each election.
How do I ensure that my ballot is valid?
Your ballot papers must be stamped with the IEC’s official stamp. Also, you must draw a cross in pen next to only one party per ballot paper, or in other words, only one cross per national ballot paper and one cross on the provincial paper.
What if I made a mistake?
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 can’t be removed.
Is someone allowed with me in the voting booth?
No, unless you have applied for special assistance. You’ll also notice party agents in the voting station. They may under no circumstances interfere with your vote or try to influence you.
Will they let me in 5 minutes before closing time?
Everyone within a clearly demarcated area at the voting station before 21:00 should be allowed to cast their vote.
Can voting time be extended?
Only if ordered by the national electoral commissioner if there is a pressing reason why a voting station should remain open after 21:00.
What if I want to make an objection?
Voters, party agents and ward candidates can object to a voter being given too many ballot papers, a voter being refused a ballot paper, or the conduct of a voting officer, party agent or any other person. Let the presiding officer know that you want to make an objection. The presiding officer will give you the relevant form to fill in.
Can I take selfies in the voting booth?
No. “Voters are reminded that the secrecy of the vote is protected by law and it is an offence to take a photograph of a marked ballot,” the IEC said in a statement.