ANC discusses possible electronic voting in next year’s local elections

Campaign posters fill the wall outside a voting station on May 7, 2014 in Bekkersdal, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Athol Moralee)

The ANC’s national working committee said it discussed a range of responses on these and other challenges impacting next year’s electoral system.

The ANC’s national working committee (NWC) has discussed a range of possibilities, including electronic voting for next year’s local elections.

It was recently reported that the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is in consultation to possibly postpone next year’s local government elections due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During its Monday meeting, the NWC said it discussed a range of responses on these and other challenges impacting next year’s electoral system.

It includes a synchronisation of elections at national, provincial and local spheres of government; introducing elements of constituency-based representation at national and provincial spheres, consistent with the constitutional requirement for an electoral system that results, in general, in proportional representation; and the use of electronic voting.

“The NWC discussed these proposals in the context of strengthening the accountability of responsiveness of democratic institutions and the building of a more effective and capable developmental state.

“In this regard, the NWC also considered the impact of the electoral system on the strengthening of the district development model seeking to align planning, budgeting, and implementation across national, provincial and local spheres of government.”

The campaign season for next year’s elections was halted by the government’s regulations to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The ANC’s mid-term policy assessment, the national general council which was due to be held in June, was also postponed.

Evidence-based approach

Shortly after the government’s implementation of the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 in March, the Electoral Court postponed by-elections scheduled for 3 and 10 June, along with associated activities, including voter registration.

This also meant that by-elections could be held beyond the 90-day legislated period for the filling of councillor vacancies, but not beyond 120 days from the date of the order, the IEC said in a statement.

The Electoral Court also granted the IEC permission to approach the court again for further alternative relief, including further postponement, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the NWC emphasised that these proposals must be supported by a rigorous evidence-based approach, including clarity regarding their constitutional implications.

“It mandated the Legislatures and Governance Sub-committee of the NEC to conduct research to further develop these proposals,” he said.

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