The Electoral Commission declares that it is ready to receive potential voters at registration stations across the country over the weekend. A total of 23 151 registration stations will be in operation from 08h00 until 17h00 on both Saturday and Sunday. A registration weekend takes the voter registration service into communities where eligible citizens reside. Therefore, the essence of the exercise is to create a platform for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Without enlisting on the voters’ roll, taking part in the forthcoming elections is impossible.
A total of 48 899 registration officials have been trained to undertake the registration procedures at the voting stations. For the first time registration staff had to complete online training modules as well as a module on the practicalities of the registration process. The online modules related to theoretical concepts associated with the constitutional role of the Electoral Commission as well as the voter registration processes. Staff had to attain 80 per cent competency level in order to proceed to the practical module. This training innovation will strengthen our capacity to offer an excellent registration service to citizens.
The new Voter Management Devices (VMDs) will also be used for the first time on a mass scale during this registration weekend. The VMDs represent a departure from the erstwhile ‘Zip-Zip’ machines which have been in use in the registration process since 1998. The VMDs will essentially operate in online mode in most parts of the country. In parts of the country where internet connection is not strong or reliable, the VMDs have been provisioned to operate in offline mode. In offline mode, devices will be able to record transactions and perform verification based on data stored locally on each device. As soon as the VMD gets in to an area of signal it will automatically and without prompting upload the transactions stored to the memory of the device.
The VMD’s will enable an almost instantaneous citizenship verification as well as the correct capturing of a residential address assisted by a mapping functionality. Registration applications have been loaded and at least one VMD has been allocated to each voting station on the Logistics Information System. The VMD’s will consolidate and integrate business processes which were hitherto separated and thus inefficient. A total of 40 000 have been procured and will be in use during both the registration and election processes.
In order to register, voters need to bring an identity document which may be a Smart Card, green barcoded book or a Temporary Identification Certificate. It is essential that a voter indicates an address or a description of a place where they live. Proof of address is not a requirement for purposes of registration. Jurisprudence from our courts provides that the Commission must record a voter’s address and ensure that each voter is registered within a Ward in which they are ordinarily resident.
The Commission launched a new online registration portal in July 2021 and, as at this morning, 156 651 voters had successfully used the system to register. The online registration system will remain open until the date of proclamation of the elections which we expect on Monday, 20 September 2021.
Voters who are registered can confirm their registration online on the website, on the IEC APP and by calling the contact centre at 0800 11 8000 (calls are free of charge from a landline and standard mobile network rates apply). Furthermore, an identity number can be sent to 32810 via the Short Message System (SMS).
We have taken note and welcome the decision by the Department of Home Affairs to open their offices over this weekend. This will facilitate the collection of identity documents as well as the acquisition of temporary identification certificates which can used for registration purposes.
The safety of voters and staff is a key priority of the Commission including over this weekend as well as other subsequent electoral events. The following registration protocols will apply at all registration stations during the voter registration weekend:
- Face mask or cloth covering of the nose and mouth;
- Social distance with a minimum of 1.5 meters; and
- Sanitizing upon entry into the registration station.
All registration staff and stations have been provided the following items for use as precautionary measures to obviate possible COVD-19 transmissions:
- Disposable Face Mask;
- Face Shields;
- Disposable Cardboard Bins;
- Sanitizer Wipes;
- Hand Sanitizer;
- Disinfectant Fogger sprays; and
- Social Distance markers.
The Electoral Commission has noted with gratitude, the decision of the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga to adjust the National Senior Certificate examination timetable in order to accommodate the elections on 1 November 2021. This gesture from the Minister will enable young voters who are writing these examinations to participate in the elections.
The Commission has also written to the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi requesting that he facilitates a request to the President asking for election day to be declared a public holiday. This intervention is aimed at affording all voters an equal footing to participate in the elections without being encumbered by business and employment considerations on the day of voting.
Participation in the local government elections is important as municipal councils play a crucial role in providing services that directly affect people on a daily basis. Electoral participation which is impossible without registration provides an opportunity to shape the local affairs of communities. Local government will be strengthened by participation of sectors of our society especially by the youth. We therefore call on every eligible voter to register over the weekend and for those who have moved or changed address to use this unique opportunity to amend their registration details.