NEWS & ANALYSIS

The election timetable

Charles Simkins sets out its main features, and makes relevant suggestions

The election timetable

7 March 2019

The voters’ roll  

Notice had to be given by the Chief Electoral Officer (Mr Sy Mamabolo) by 1 March that copies of the provisional voters’ roll are available for inspection, and the locations where they are available.  This has been done.  Objections to inclusions and exclusions of people on the voters’ roll have to be lodged by 8 March.  The Commission has to decide on the objection to the provisional voters’ roll by 14 March.  By 18 March, the Chief Electoral Officer must certify and publish the voters’ roll or segments of it.

Voting stations

By 5 March, the Chief Electoral Officer must give notice that from the date of the notice until voting day copies of a list of all voting stations will be available for inspection.  By the same date, he must give notice of the route and the location and times of stopping of each mobile voting station.

Voting outside the country

Voters wishing to vote outside the country must notify the Chief Electoral Officer by 13 March.  Votes can be cast at a foreign mission on 27 April.

Special votes

Voters who want to apply to the Chief Electoral Officer for a special vote[1] may do so between 4 April and 18 April.  A person who has applied for a special vote may be visited by voting officers on 6 May[2].   A person whose application for a special vote has been approved and who wants to cast a special vote at the office of the presiding officer[3] may do so on 7 May 2019 between 09:00 and 17:00.

Party lists

Registered parties intending to contest the election must submit a list of their candidates to the Chief Electoral Officer by 13 March.  The Chief Electoral Officer must notify parties which have not fully complied with section 27, of that non-compliance by 19 March.  Parties wishing to rectify the situation must do so by 25 March.

The Chief Electoral Officer must give notice by 29 March that, on 29 March and 1 April, lists of candidates and accompanying documents will be available for inspection.  Anyone can object to a candidate by 2 April[4].  The Commission must decide on objections and notify the objector and the nominating party by 8 April.  The objector or nominating party may appeal a decision of the Commission to the Electoral Court by 11 April.  The Court must decide appeals by 16 April and notify the parties to the appeal and the Chief Electoral Officer by 16 April. 

By 23 April, the Chief Electoral Officer must compile a list of the registered parties entitled to contest the election and the final list of candidates for each of these parties and, by 25 April, the Chief Electoral Officer must issue a certificate to each candidate.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION FOR VOTERS

1. The IEC website allows people eligible to vote to check their registration status, voting station and the status of any application for a special vote.  It also provides access to a list of voting stations, and lists mobile voting stations and their stopping points and times.

2. Users of smartphones and tablets are able to download an app to keep themselves informed on the election

COMMENT

1. Publication in the Government Gazette is sufficient for notification of the public, but searching for information about the elections by people who do not have a subscription to a commercial government gazette service is time consuming and can be haphazard.  We believe that all government gazette notices in relation to the elections should also be published on the IEC website.

2. It should be explained on the IEC website, in plain English, who qualifies for a special vote.

3. The available time for inspection of party lists is short and the period of notice even shorter.  Again, it would be helpful if the IEC were to post the lists on their website.  This would effectively add the weekend of 30/31 March to the inspection time.  The final lists should also be published on the IEC website.  In a closed party list system, voters are entitled to have easy access to information about whom they may be sending to Parliament.

4. Access to information by computer, tablet and smartphone is welcomed, and should be  made as extensive as possible. 

Charles Simkins is Head of Research, Helen Suzman Foundation. 

This article first appeared as an HSF Brief. 

[1]In terms of section 33(1)(a),(b) or (c) or section 33(2) read with regulation 7, 8

and 9, and section 33A(1)(a),(b) or (c) or section 33A(2) read with regulation

15, 15A and 15B

[2]This applies only to voters applying in terms ofsection 33(1)(b) or (c) or section 33(2) read with regulation 9, or section 33A(1) (a) read with regulation 15 and 15A. 

[3] in terms of section 33(1)(b), (c) or 33(2) read with regulation 9, and section 33A(1)(b), (c) or 33A(2) read with regulation 15B

[4] Section 47(1) of the Constitution states:

Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly, except—

(a) anyone who is appointed by, or is in the service of, the state and receives remuneration for that appointment or service, other than—

(i) the President, Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers; and

 (ii) other office-bearers whose functions are compatible with the functions of a member of the Assembly, and have been declared compatible with those functions by national legislation;

(b) permanent delegates to the National Council of Provinces or members of a provincial legislature or a Municipal Council;

(c) unrehabilitated insolvents;

(d) anyone declared to be of unsound mind by a court of the Republic; or

(e) anyone who, after this section took effect, is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic, or outside the Republic if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic, but no one may be regarded as having been sentenced until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired. A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed