Following a Constitutional Court order last year for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to capture the addresses of everyone on the voters’ roll before June 2018, it has now emerged in court papers the commission has managed to reduce the number of addresses missing from the roll by only 1% in the space of six months.
The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that, according to the IEC’s latest submission to the ConCourt on its attempts to correct defects in the voters’ roll, the best way for the commission to capture all voters’ addresses before the set deadline of June 30, 2018, would be to conduct voter registration weekends and to access municipalities’ debtors’ books and databases.
However, the voter registration drive – which normally takes place in the run-up to countrywide elections – would cost the IEC an estimated R300 million for every such weekend.
The IEC is said to have confirmed in its submission to the court it had already written to National Treasury requesting the funds to conduct the registration drives, which would include the opening and staffing of each of the 22 612 voting stations across the country.
The commission has also suggested it does not anticipate the deadline will be met without the money.
“The electoral commission recognises that it has since then made minimal further progress. This is, in the main, because no general registration weekend has taken place in the six-month period leading up to the filing of the report,” the IEC’s submission reportedly stated.
The matter originates from a 2016 Electoral Court order that saw the IEC postpone by-elections in the North West town of Tlokwe after opposition parties challenged the legitimacy of addresses of voters on the roll due to allegations that the ANC had manipulated it.
The ConCourt on June 16, 2016, ordered the IEC to collect the addresses of all voters who appeared on the roll after December 2013. It also directed the commission to provide progress reports every six months.
The IEC said by the end of May this year, it had made little progress in recording the addresses of registered voters.
“The percentage of registered voters without [any] recorded address on the voters’ roll has been reduced to 11% from 13%. This means that there remain 2 909 294 registered voters without [any] recorded address on the voters’ roll,” the IEC said in court papers.
The IEC said it would be able to definitively state to the ConCourt by December whether it would meet the next year’s deadline.