In televised interviews and in her official response to observing the 2019 national and provincial elections, Congress of the People (Cope) MP Deidre Carter has claimed it was surprisingly and shockingly easy to potentially cast more than one ballot in this year’s polls.
The issue has seen several parties, including the DA, lodging official complaints with the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC).
Carter says that after she became aware of how easily the IEC’s “indelible ink” came off her thumb (unlike in previous elections), she proceeded to another voting station in Cape Town to see if she could get as far as being given another ballot paper to vote.
At different stations she could repeatedly be given more printed slips from the IEC’s scanners, since they are not linked to any central live database, and she went to as many as five stations in total. She showed reporters each of the slips she had collected along the way.
Carter claims she was able to do all of this within the space of an hour from around 5pm on Wednesday.
At the point she was about to fill in the form required for those voting away from their registered station, she alerted the presiding officer to what was going on. She made it clear that she never in fact committed the criminal act of voting more than once at more than one voting station.
The Cope MP, who is also her party’s Western Cape premier candidate, told journalists she had done all of this because she had been alerted to allegations that a group of EFF voters had been “high-fiving” each other earlier in the day for allegedly successfully voting more than once. The EFF has in turn made allegations against the ANC over the same issue in, particularly, North West.
Watch Carter explain her experience herself below (you may have to activate the audio manually by tapping on the video):
In a statement at 11.30pm, IEC commissioner Mosotho Moepya said the Electoral Commission “would like to assure South Africa and all voters of the overall integrity of the electoral process” … “in the light of allegations of two separate instances of double voting”.
The alleged instances of the same individuals voting at different voting stations had been brought to the IEC’s attention over the past few hours.
Moepya, however, said the IEC’s checks and safeguards together served to protect the integrity of the vote.
He named the voters’ roll, the requirement of a valid ID being scanned, the marking of voters’ thumbs with ink, the signing of sworn statements by voters at stations where they were not registered, the presence of party agents monitoring activities at voting stations, the existence of exception reports and the fact that the results and data around them would be captured indefinitely to identify instances of electoral fraud.
Moepya said data from scanners would be assessed along with analysis of voters’ rolls. Where fraud could be detected, results from affected wards would be quarantined and criminal charges would be pursued against perpetrators, “who will be very well known to us. They have left footprints, and will be pursued.”
He said objections could be raised by political parties throughout the process, including ineligibility on the part of any voter to vote, double voting or any other irregularity. They called for all suspected cases to be registered for investigation.
No voter would be allowed to place the overall integrity of the elections in doubt, said Moepya.
Critics have pointed out that many of the IEC’s safeguards – including the ink being easily removable from thumbs, scanners being broken and not linked to a central system, voters’ rolls being printed only for each voting station and stickers no longer being placed in ID books because ID cards cannot receive them – appeared to have either broken down or shown serious vulnerabilities.
They have also pointed out that instances of double voting more than likely went beyond just two separate instances.
Moepya conceded that it was possible these problems were real, but the IEC would fully investigate and take appropriate action. He said everything would be transparent.
“We will share them with you. And we will know what happened.”