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Nine things to remember when casting your vote

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Elections are difficult. So as you make your way to your designated voting stations, here are nine things to remember when casting your vote.

Come prepared, bring entertainment and snacks for the voting queue.

1. South Africa, welcome to your first Twitter election. While live-tweeting the process may be well within the rules of engagement, please remember: do not take a selfie. We realise that this somewhat hinders the way in which you might want to illustrate your experience on social media. We’re sad about it too. But rumour has it that the next election will definitely be the Instagram election. Promise.

2. Check that your ballot is stamped at the back or your vote won’t count. When you enter your voting station, the voting officer will hand you two ballots. One for a provincial vote and one for a national vote. Please make sure the officer has stamped both ballots. Please do not enter the venue with your own cut-out stamps made from butternuts. While this might be hilarious, it will not count.

3. If you are caught snapping away in the booth and you are imprisoned for it (as the Independent Electoral Commission has warned), please do take a selfie. Don’t worry about constraints on having your cellphone in prison. We all know this is allowed. Remember the Waterkloof Four? What’s good for the goose …

4. If you are torn between parties and cannot decide which one to vote for, you may want to spoil your ballot. How do you do this? The regular method would be to go ahead and draw a cross in more than one box. But more interesting options include turning the ballot paper so that it’s in landscape mode and drawing a map of Nkandla (don’t forget the fire pool), or keeping the ballot paper in portrait mode and drawing a butternut. With a face. And a smile. Don’t forget the smile. Remember to drop it in the ballot box quickly though, because once it’s in there you can’t change your mind. When it’s gone, it’s gone for good. If you do change your mind, however, do not insert into ballot box and kindly ask officer to mark ballot as “cancelled”.

5. If you are still confused, just pick the candidate with the best smile. All the candidates will have their faces next to party logos on the ballot. Remember to pick someone sincere and natural, untainted by developments in cosmetic science. Do not pick a façade.

6. You might find yourself being refused a ballot for some strange reason. In the event that this happens to you, do not panic. Switch on the radio, log on to Twitter – whichever is more accessible – and find the latest incident of “found” ballot boxes. Who knows, there may be a batch that recently fell off a truck just around the next corner. Go, go, go.

7. Do not get thrown by big terms such as land reform, corruption, Nkandla, Nkandla, Nkandla. Only one thing matters: swagger. And remember, this year’s best accessory is a baby in political garb. That, you can take a selfie of.

8. If you are a first-time voter and you have spent a lot of time – 140 characters at a time – telling everyone how you are excited to vote for change, do not be disappointed if when you get to your voting station, “Change” is not listed as an option. Just saying.

9. And for the love of democracy, wear comfortable shoes.


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