South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is receiving applications for a “special voting” privilege from prospective voters who would be allowed to vote before the scheduled May 7 general election date, according to Kate Bapela, spokesperson of the electoral commission.
Officials say April 17 will be the closing date for the submission of the special voting application.
The chief electoral officer will determine whether applicants meet the requirement for the special voting privilege as stipulated in South Africa’s Electoral Act.
Bapela says the categories of applicants who would be considered for approval include the sick, security officers, as well as electoral commission officials who will be working on the day of the election.
“South Africans who won’t be able to vote on 7th of May have an opportunity to make applications or make their case to the chief electoral officer who will then look at their submission, and may approve their request to vote before all of us go to the polls,” said Bapela.
“Special voting can be granted to people who are physically infirmed or handicapped or people who are pregnant, those are the people who cannot travel by themselves to the voting stations. Once that permission has been granted by the chief electoral officer, those who are traveling before the election date will be allowed to vote before they travel,” said Bapela.
She says officials from the electoral commission will visit the homes of sick prospective voters to enable them cast their ballot on Monday 5th May and 6th May between 9am to 6pm local time.
“The second group of people who for some reason would not be at the voting station on Election Day would then go to the station where they are registered. Once they get to the voting station, they would then be assisted on either Monday the 5th or Tuesday the 6th of May,” said Bapela. “This is to ensure that they don’t miss any opportunity to go and cast their ballot.”
Bapela expressed confidence that the electoral commission would be fully prepared to administer the May vote. She said measures have been implemented to ensure the credibility of the vote is not compromised.
“We are already doing the dry run for the results system. This is the system where the results would be uploaded from every polling station in the country. We are already testing that system, and we are already planning the training for journalists and political parties on what should be their level of understanding of the results system.”
She says the electoral body has been distributing electoral materials to all polling centers across the country in readiness for the May vote.
“For the voting officials we have got a special T-shirts to ensure that they get identified by the public. So, really we are at a high peak in terms of election preparations because as it is we are less than a month away from the 7th of May,” said Bapela.