The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) said yesterday that a rumour to the effect that if a registered voter does not vote, their vote automatically goes to the governing party, was just political blackmail.
The IEC said yesterday that it was ready for the May 8 general elections, stating that despite having seven days to produce the results, the outcomes would be finalised in three days, on May 11.
Speaking in Pretoria, IEC deputy chief executive Mawethu Mosery confirmed that 48 political parties would contest the elections, while 76 parties would contest both nationally and provincially. The ballot papers would be the longest ever, taking up just over two A4 pages combined.
Mosery was at pains to clarify that a rumour circulating across the country and on social media that a registered voter’s vote would automatically go to the governing party if they – the voter – abstained from taking part, was false.
“The notion that if you don’t go, you are [automatically] voting for the ruling party is a political campaign and, in a way, blackmailing you as a voter to go and vote or encouraging you to vote,” he said. “Either you vote or you don’t. There will still be an outcome. It may favour the party you wanted or a different party.
“It is not true that your vote goes to the leading party,” added Mosery. “By not participating, you are choosing as a voter not to participate.”
Ballot papers would be different this year. The format has been changed following complaints that the proximity of the governing ANC and the African Independent Congress on previous ballot papers created confusion.
“We redesigned the look of the ballot papers and removed the face of the party leader so it is away from the box where you put your ‘X’,” said Mosery.
“The ‘X’ will be closer to the abbreviation of the party. Next to the abbreviation should be the party logo followed by the face of the party leader and the full name of the party,” he explained.
“Voters indicated [that] the logo and abbreviation were the key things when it came to the face of the leader.
“They [the voter] sometimes can’t see if it’s the correct leader or not. Some voters said they do not know the full name of the party.
“We also redesigned it [the ballot paper] to separate the political parties with similar acronyms and similar logos.”
The final outcome of the elections would be proclaimed on May 15, Mosery said.
“In terms of our planning and operations, we are geared towards making sure it happens.”