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Elections 2024: Tips and information for voting today

For the first time, the elections will have three ballot papers – here is what you need to know about what your votes are for.

As the country readies itself to vote today, here is a brief overview of what you can expect, and what your vote means.

The Electoral Commission says, “Voting allows you to be part of decision-making that affects your life and the future of our country. If you don’t vote, others will make the decisions for you. History shows that democracies in danger of losing their freedom register frighteningly low voter turnouts. In thriving democracies, people vote in large numbers and the people’s voice remains supreme.” These elections will have three ballot papers where each voter must indicate their choice. The results of this will determine the government the country elects that will lead the nation for the next five years.

When you go to vote, what will happen?

Important information
• Do not forget to take your South African ID card with you.
• Physically disabled voters: you can choose someone to help you at the voting station or ask for help when you arrive.
• Concerns and when to speak out: a voter is given too many ballot papers; is being refused a ballot paper; or the conduct of a voting officer, party agent or any other person is questionable. Speak to an election official who will investigate your concerns and take the matter forward if warranted.

The three ballot papers that will be used on election day.

The three ballot papers explained
For the first time, voters will be given three ballot papers.

The National Assembly, which is made up of 400 seats is one of the bodies making up the South African Parliament.
These seats are divided into two equal parts of 200 seats each.

The first 200 are allocated from the votes political parties received on the NATIONAL ballot which is BLUE (in simple terms, which party do you want to be in charge of the country).

The other 200 seats are made up proportionally of representatives from the various provinces, who will make sure each province’s specific needs are heard and dealt with at the NATIONAL level.

Each province will have these representatives in the National Assembly. These political parties and some independent candidates will be found on the ORANGE BALLOT
This new ballot is to allow smaller political parties and independent candidates an opportunity to represent their voters at a national level. Together, the 400 seats work as part of Parliament to govern and run
the country.

So what about the PINK ballot?

While our province is represented on the NATIONAL stage through the regional ballot, we have some needs and issues that do not have to go all the way to the top of government.
The Gauteng Legislature is the body that manages and governs Gauteng as an independent unit from the national government.
This ballot, the PINK one, is for the GAUTENG LEGISLATURE where laws and governance for our province alone are decided and managed.

How is the government structured in brief?

What is Parliament?
• Members are elected to represent the country.
• Every five years, a new parliament is elected.
• It is responsible for making and passing laws.
• There are two houses: National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
• 400 members voted in via the national and regional ballots (200 each)

What is the National Assembly?
• It is a house of Parliament within which the president is chosen, laws are passed, conducts oversight on the Executive (president, deputy president and ministers) to ensure it is working correctly and is a site of debate among party representatives.
• 400 seats.
The overall allocation for parties out of the 400 seats is determined using a quota system based on votes across the regions and the national ballot. Seats for the parties are then calculated.

What is the National Council of Provinces?
• Makes sure regional issues are included in national debates and decisions
• Participates in law-making processes
• Includes provincial issues debated on the national platform
• One mark, preferably an X should be made on each ballot paper – ONE MARK, ONE VOTE!
• Voters must only make one mark on each ballot as more than one will be considered a spoilt vote and will not be counted.
• Incorrect ballots: If you incorrectly mark a ballot paper and realise this before placing the paper in the ballot box, ask for a new ballot paper. Please make sure that the incorrect ballot paper is marked as ‘cancelled’. Once your ballot has been placed in the ballot box, it can’t be removed.

Safety tips to keep in mind
Carnel Hattingh from the Fidelity Services Group says, “When you go to your local voting station, please remember these basic safety measures. Large numbers of people will be out and about and this means that being aware of your surroundings is as important as ever.”
• Before leaving, make sure your house is properly locked and secured.
• Leave valuables at home.
• There is safety in numbers. If you have a neighbour who is also voting, consider asking if they want to walk or drive with you. You might have an elderly neighbour who would appreciate you offering to accompany them to vote.
“The police will have a heightened presence across the country on the day, especially at voting stations. It is a good idea to still be alert to any suspicious activity and to ask for help if you see something suspicious,” says Hattingh. “Opportunistic criminals are always on the lookout for ‘soft targets’ in places where large numbers of people gather.”

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