IEC insists it ready for local government polls

IEC insists it ready for local government polls


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Johannesburg – The IEC launched the commission's 2021 local government elections campaign this week which focuses on drawing young people to register to vote.

The campaign is titled “every voice together”.

This launch comes as an inquiry headed by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke is probing whether the commission can hold elections during a global pandemic. The inquiry is appointed under Section 14(4) of the Electoral Commission Act.

Its findings are expected in July.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said the commission was managing a tightrope. Its constitutional mandate and also ensuring that voting stations do not turn into super spreader events.

He said the commission had done extensive assessments and studied conditions in other countries before deciding that it could host this year's elections.

“The commission has also drawn extensively on the experiences of more than 100 countries and territories around the world which have successfully held elections under Covid-19 conditions.

“The commission assures the nation that effective mitigation measures are in place to ensure the elections are conducted safely,” he said.

A small group of political parties, the EFF and the IFP, have been outspoken in their opposition to the elections taking place due to a global pandemic.

Both parties insist that their push for a postponement did not mean they were not ready to contest.

Voter registration weekend

Voter registration will take place on July 17 & 18. The elections are set for October 27.

Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the commission was in discussions with political parties on other measures that could be used to make up for additional voter registration days. Some of the options include online registration.

Mamabolo said young people remained under represented on the voters roll. The campaign launch featured videos of young people calling on each other to vote. This is in line with attracting young voters, Mamambolo said.

There will be 4468 demarcated wards this year.

Voting stations have also increased to 23 151, a rise of 539 compared to 2016. Mamabolo said the IEC has been able to increase voter access to stations by 60% since 1999.

Another challenge for the IEC was collecting millions of voter residential addresses.

The IEC was mandated by the Constitutional Court to do so in 2016. Mamabolo said the commission has managed to collect 92% of voter addresses, which represents about 24 million people.

There are 1.2 million registered voters who have yet to provide their residential addresses – Mamabolo said there was hope that the missing numbers would be filled with the upcoming voter registration drive.

Mamabolo said according to statistics, there were currently 15 million eligible voters that have not registered on the voters roll. About 9 million, 60%, are under the age of 30.

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