The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it wants the election day to be declared a public holiday, as well as signalling its readiness to hold the voter registration weekend.
Addressing the media on Thursday afternoon, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the commission had written to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi so that he asks President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare election day as 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,” Mamabolo said.
The country is set to go to the polls on 1 November.
With the voter registration scheduled to take place this weekend, Mamabolo said more than 23,000 registration stations would open from 8am to 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
“The registration weekend takes the registration services into communities where eligible voters reside. Therefore the essence of this 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,” he said.
Mamabolo revealed that approximately 48,899 registration officials have been trained to conduct 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,” he explained.
Voter management devices
The IEC boss also touched on the new voter management devices (VMDs), which will be used for the first time this weekend and during the elections.
He said VMDs, which had replaced the zip-zip machines, would online operate across most parts of the country.
However, the VMDs can also operate offline in parts of the country where internet connection is not strong.
“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 VMDs 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,” Mamabolo added.
The commission has procured 40,000 of these devices, which has cost R500 million, according to EWN.
Voters need to bring an identity document which may be a smart card, green barcoded book or a temporary identification certificate in order to register.
“It is essential that a voter indicates an address or a description of a place where they live,” Mamabolo said.
He also said, however, proof of address is not required 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,” he added.
Mamabolo further welcomed the decision by the Department of Home Affairs to open their offices during the registration weekend.