In response to recent claims made in a City Press article regarding voter registration irregularities, the Electoral Commission has issued a statement clarifying the situation ahead of the by-elections held in George Municipality on July 20, 2023.
The City Press article had alleged that an astounding 188 voters were registered under a single address in Pacaltsdorp, a suburb of George Municipality. The Good Party had taken the matter to the Electoral Court, seeking to have the by-elections postponed due to concerns of potential voter fraud.
However, the Electoral Court dismissed the application, allowing the by-elections to proceed as scheduled. Following this decision, the Electoral Commission reviewed the matter independently to ensure transparency and uphold the principles of free and fair elections.
According to the Electoral Commission’s findings, the actual number of voters registered at the contentious address was 174, not 188 as reported. Contrary to the allegations, the commission confirmed that all 174 voters were legitimately registered within the voting district and ward corresponding to their respective addresses. Some of these voters had participated in previous elections, including the 2021 Local Government Elections, further validating their historical registrations.
Moreover, the Electoral Commission highlighted that the 174 voters in question had not been registered through any online platforms, as their registrations predated the introduction of electronic registration means. Instead, their voter details were updated manually using the addresses provided during registration. An inadvertent error resulted in assigning a common address to these voters when cross-referenced against ward boundaries, a common practice for wards undergoing prospective by-elections.
To enhance transparency and adherence to electoral laws, the Electoral Commission has implemented various legal measures since the Constitutional order of 2016, which mandated the inclusion of voters’ addresses where available. Among these measures is the provision of the voters’ roll to all contestants before by-elections, allowing them to inspect its details and raise objections that must be considered by the commission before the election. The election timetable outlines specific periods for voters’ roll inspection.
Despite the opportunity for objections being provided, no contestants raised concerns during the objection period ahead of the George Municipality by-elections. The Electoral Commission urges all political parties and contestants with evidence of suspected malfeasance to approach the commission, law enforcement agencies, or the Electoral Court to address their concerns.
Looking ahead to the 2024 National and Provincial Elections, the Electoral Commission urges all eligible South African voters to register promptly. Registration and verification of voter details can be conveniently completed online at www.elections.org.za. This digital platform ensures accessibility and accuracy in updating voter information.
In light of potential risks associated with voter registration and job scams, the Electoral Commission issued a warning to voters. Fraudulent websites advertising voter registration or job vacancies on behalf of the commission have been reported. To avoid falling victim to such scams, voters are advised to rely on the official website (https://elections.org.za) and social media pages (@IECSouthAfrica) for legitimate information. Any suspicious messages should be promptly reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In conclusion, the Electoral Commission reiterates its commitment to conducting free and fair elections in South Africa. The recent clarification regarding voter registration in George Municipality serves as a testament to the commission’s dedication to maintaining the integrity of the electoral process. By upholding transparent and accountable practices, the Electoral Commission aims to strengthen the democratic foundation of the nation.