Big election changes proposed for South Africa

The Van Zyl Slabbert Commission on Electoral Reform has proposed a new electoral system, as the Constitutional Court found the current electoral process unconstitutional.

This is according to the City Press, which referenced a report compiled by the commission that recommended major changes to the election of members of the National Assembly.

The main recommendation of the report was that 300 out of the 400 members of the National Assembly be elected in constituencies and only 100 according to the current system of party representation.

In June 2020, the current electoral system was found to be unconstitutional and Parliament was ordered to amend the law relating to the election of ministers by July 2022.

The changes proposed by the commission would provide far more voter representation and reduce the sway political parties have over the composition of the National Assembly.

This could also create room for more independent candidates elected from their various constituencies.

These proposed changes follow a draft bill tabled earlier this month by the Congress of the People (Cope) that aims to deal with the same problem.

This bill also recommended the election of the inclusion of independent candidates in elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has continued working on possible solutions that will amend the law in line with the court ruling against the electoral system last year.

Whatever new electoral system is approved by Parliament, this will be implemented for the next parliamentary election in 2024.

New voting machines

Many other changes have been proposed for improving the efficiency of elections in South Africa – including general national elections.

The IEC recently confirmed it was procuring new voter ID scanning devices for use during registration and voting, as well as electronic voting booths.

In November 2019, the IEC said it would soon be issuing a tender to procure 60,000 portable devices to replace the ageing existing registration devices popularly known as “zip-zip machines”.

The zip-zip machines are purely to help election officers quickly match a voter to the roll at particular stations by scanning their ID document’s barcode.

However, this machine is not linked to a larger database of all voters, which means it is useless for preventing double-voting.

The IEC wanted new devices that offered two major benefits – ensuring voters are registered at the correct stations and preventing double voting.

These features are enabled by geo-location mapping and GMS connectivity support on the new devices.

Electronic voting booths

The IEC is testing an electronic voting machine that will print a receipt reflecting the voter’s choices.

This would provide a voter-verifiable audit trail system, as once the voter has double-checked that the information is correct, the receipt will be validated with a unique stamp before being placed in a ballot box.

The counting of these receipts, and votes in general, is set to remain a manual process, the IEC has stated.

This is due to the visual guarantee it gives political parties, which the IEC maintains makes it the best possible system for counting votes in an election.

Now read: Government close to choosing private partner for new SAA

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Big election changes proposed for South Africa