As millions of South Africans prepare to cast their ballots in the hotly contested August 3 local government elections, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has cautioned voters not to take photographs of their marked ballot papers.
“Voters are reminded that it is prohibited to take a photograph or ‘selfie’ of their marked ballot paper. This is essential to protect the secrecy and integrity of their vote and the process,” said IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya at the national results operations centre in Tshwane.
“We encourage voters to rather take a picture of their marked thumb to show they have voted and to post these on social media with the hashtag #iVoted to encourage further participation.”
Deputy chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said that taking pictures of the ballot papers presented several problems.
“What is the commission trying to do by prohibiting the taking of selfies of the marked ballots? It is to ensure that there is no abuse of power relations either within the households, within the employment situation and also within the cultural context where husbands may demand wives to produce selfies of their marked ballot,” said Mamabolo.
“This is therefore a measure to safeguard the secrecy of the vote, especially for those who are vulnerable in society. Power relations are not equal in society and this is an equaliser. The issue of selfies is not a gratuitous interference with people using their cellphones.”
The IEC on Tuesday said it was confident that all preparations were in place for a free, fair and peaceful 2016 municipal election.
The IEC’s 22 612 voting stations will open for voting at 7am and close at 7pm on Wednesday. However, voters who are at voting stations at 7pm but have not yet had an opportunity to vote will be allowed to cast their ballots.
Voters must vote where they are registered and be in possession of a valid South African identity document.
– African News Agency (ANA)