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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist

Elections explained: You can’t vote twice and your vote won’t go to the ANC if you don’t vote

The outcome of the elections is determined by the votes cast, not by those who abstain from voting for any reason.

The upcoming election season has brought with it a flood of misinformation and confusion, leaving many voters uncertain.

Speaking to The Citizen, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) spokesperson Kate Bapela set the record straight with some of the most prevalent myths that float around during this season.

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With each election year, there are claims people with dual citizenship cannot cast their vote in South Africa.

However, the truth is that in most democratic societies, individuals with dual citizenship are only allowed to vote in one country.

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To vote in South Africa one must be a citizen with a valid South African Identity Document.

“You must have a South African green barcoded identity document (ID), a smart ID card or a temporary ID certificate, you must be 16 years or older. You have to register in person or online. Nobody can do it for you,” said Bapela.

It is important to note that while a South African citizen is allowed to register to vote at 16 years old, they will only be able to vote when they are 18 years or older.

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You can’t vote twice

The idea of casting your vote more than once always comes up on social media posts during election time.

Eligible voters can and will only be allowed to vote once.

On the day of the election, your ID barcode will be scanned before you vote and your name will be scratched off the voters list once you vote. This will automatically mark you as a person who has voted.

Voting more than once in any election is not only illegal but undermines the very foundation of democracy.

Each eligible voter is entitled to cast a single vote, and any attempt to vote multiple times is a serious offence that can result in legal consequences.

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What happens to your vote?

Some believe that if they register to vote but fail to show up on election day, their registration will be used by someone else.

Your registration simply indicates your intention to participate, and failing to vote just means any potential vote won’t be cast and counted.

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There is a myth that if a large number of eligible voters fail to register or choose not to vote, the ruling party automatically benefits from these absences.

This is entirely false. The electoral process is designed to reflect the voice of the people who actively participate, and the outcome is determined by the votes cast, not by those who abstain from voting for any reason.

“There is no truth to the rumour that if you don’t vote your vote will go to the ruling (or any other) party.

“Only valid votes cast in an election are counted in the result.

“Of course, that doesn’t mean there is no impact if you don’t vote. Not voting firstly foregoes your opportunity to have a say in who will represent you for the next five years – but it also means one fewer vote being cast in the election.

“Since every vote counts in an election, not voting can influence the outcome,” the spokesperson clarified.

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IEC responsible voting measures

Other misinformation myths include false claims about certain groups of people being ineligible to vote, deliberate misinformation about polling locations and times, and misleading information about the legitimacy of the electoral process itself.

According to Bapela, the commission is working with social media platforms and other entities to address myths and misinformation.

The commission promotes information fact-checking and the importance of responsible digital behaviour during voting season.

“To effectively combat post-election misinformation and disinformation, particularly regarding election results or outcomes the IEC will be disseminating accurate information about voting procedures, electoral laws, and the role of social media in elections.

“The Commission will use official websites, social media accounts, and other communication channels to provide timely and accurate information about election results and processes. There will also be regular updates to the public with clear and transparent information about the election process, results, and any delays or issues encountered,” said Bapela.

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