/ 26 February 2024

Electoral commission releases timetable for poll

Many young South Africans are unwilling to exercise their right to vote.
Elections will take place on 29 May. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The 2024 voters’ roll has closed and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has published its timetable of deadlines for candidates and voters after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement that elections will take place on 29 May.

The electoral body said in a statement on Monday that the proclamation of the election date had legal consequences, the first major one being that the voters’ roll has now closed and the second being the publication of the election timetable in the Government Gazette.

“This means no further voter registration may take place, either at a local office or online. Voter verifications as well as other validations are currently under way to ensure that there is compliance with the provisions of the law in respect of eligibility to vote,” the IEC said.

The election timetable, which was published on Saturday 24 February after consulting the national political liaison committee, outlines deadlines, including performance dates for election contestants and voters.  

The commission said the provisional voters’ roll would be published for inspection on Monday and an electronic version would be made available at all the IEC’s offices for examination.

“Those who wish to object to the inclusion or exclusion of a voter on the voters’ roll must do so by 4 March 2024. The objections received on or before 4 March 2024 will be considered, investigated and determined by the commission by 11 March 2024,” it said.

The chief electoral officer will certify the voters’ roll on 12 March after objections have been considered. Electronic copies of the certified voters’ roll will be made available to contestants and a printed copy will be prepared for use in voting stations on election day.

In addition to the election marking 30 years of electoral democracy, it introduces novel experiences for voters such as a third ballot and the participation of independent candidates, the IEC said.

“For purposes of candidate nomination, the commission promotes the use of the online Candidate Nomination platform. It is convenient and facilitates compliance with the requirements of the law as it provides a compliance dashboard for users,” it said.

All independent candidates and political parties who intend to contest the election must submit nomination requirements by 5pm on 8 March.

“Our electoral scheme acknowledges that it is a matter of immense national importance for the citizens to know who the nominated candidates are. The publication of the provisional lists of candidates goes to the heart of the vote based on informed choices. Therefore, the provisional lists of candidates will be published for inspection on 26 and 27 March,” the commission said.

Interested parties have until 27 March to object to prospective candidates. The IEC will decide on these objections on 28 March.

“Any person or political party or entity that is not satisfied with the decision of the commission may approach the electoral court to appeal the objection decision,” the IEC said.

Appeals must be lodged by 2 April and the court will issue determinations by 9 April.

“With all compliance matters and objections relating to candidates resolved, the commission will publish the final lists of candidates on 10 April and certificates of candidature will be issued to certified candidates on 12 April. The conclusion of the candidate nomination process will set in motion the ballot paper printing project,” the IEC said.

The official list of 23 292 voting stations will be available for inspection from 12 April. This will include the addresses of voting stations as well as the ending times of 33 mobile voting stations.

The electoral scheme provides a dispensation for voters in special circumstances. Those who are infirm, confined and unable to reach voting stations must apply to be visited for a special vote at home.

Voters who will not be in their voting districts on 29 May must also apply for a special vote to cast ballots ahead of election day. Both home visits and voting station special votes will happen on 27 and 28 May. The applications for special votes closes on 3 May.

Voters who intend to vote abroad, and who are registered on a specific country’s segment of the voters’ roll, do not have to give notice that they will be voting in that country. The law assumes they will be voting at the diplomatic mission of registration.

Those registered elsewhere, including locally registered voters who intend to vote at a particular diplomatic mission abroad, must give notice to the chief electoral officer of their intention to vote there. The notice to vote abroad can be submitted on the commission’s website from 26 February to 22 April.

Special voting at diplomatic missions will happen on either 17 or 18 May 2024. The exact date will be determined considering the host country’s dominant religious and cultural practices.

As a general principle, voters must vote where they are registered but, in the event voters intend to be in a different voting district on election day, they must notify the IEC of their absence from their voting district and of the voting station where they wish to cast their vote. 

A notification portal will soon be launched for this purpose. Notifications in this regard will close on 17 May.