I voted this morning in Sandton and the thumb I’m using to type the spaces in this piece of text you’re currently reading has already lost most of its “indelible ink” mark. My fiancee discovered the same thing on her thumb.
The IEC’s “inker” put the ink on my right thumb, when it should have been my left. So I could probably have headed off somewhere else to vote again using my unmarked left thumb as collateral (if I were dishonestly inclined and cared enough to risk jail time for a bloody political party).
IEC officials confirmed today that the machines that print out your voter slips aren’t linked to any central system, so they don’t really know what’s going on in real time and rely on their ink to uphold the “one voter, one vote” principle.
The easy removal of the ink is radically different to what I remember from previous elections, when it took me ages and many a bath to finally see that black mark fading. I remember a space even forming between the mark and my cuticle from the nail growing, before I finally saw the last of it.
I don’t know whether the problem here is incompetence on the part of the IEC for picking an inferior ink supplier, or whether this is part of some sort of giant conspiracy to allow certain groups with knowledge of the easy removability of the ink to go and vote more than once.
I strongly doubt the latter, though I’m sure that a few dishonest people did try their luck once they realised they might get away with.
I don’t think this happened on a large scale, but it’s bad news during such a hotly contested election when tempers among politicians are likely to flare and accusations about dodginess are already flying around willy-nilly.
Nobody likes a cheater. And nobody likes a referee who hasn’t taken every possible precaution to limit cheating as much as possible. The ink is either indelible or it’s not. And from where I’m sitting, it is not.
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said that that as far as he’s concerned it hasn’t yet been proven that the ink comes off easily. He said he’d heard reports of it coming off, and other reports of it not coming off. This led him to produce, perhaps, the most remarkable quote of this election so far, that the allegations about the ink are only a “partial reality”.
A partial reality? That sounds like something a crew member of the Starship Enterprise would worry about after running into some unknown spacefaring species that can bend time and space to their will.
“Captain, we appear to be trapped in a partial reality!”
But it really shouldn’t be something we say about a marker pen. Many, many others on social media have shared the same experience about their marks.
Though the ink has faded fast, we’re going to be stuck with whoever we’ve put in power (and however we’ve done it) for the next five years.
So, IEC, it would have been nice if your little pens could have done a more permanent job.