By Sipho Mabena
The Independent Electoral Commission has launched a massive online campaign to confirm and collect addresses of 26-million voters for a credible voters’ roll in time for the 2019 national elections.
This after the bruising Constitutional Court judgment in June last year that the IEC had failed to collect and maintain addresses for a credible voters’ roll.
In 2016‚ the Electoral Court ordered the IEC to postpone by-elections in Tlokwe‚ North West‚ after opposition parties successfully argued that the commission was compelled to provide addresses for everyone on the voters’ roll.
The opposition parties approached the court following allegations that the ANC had manipulated the roll‚ with some voters voting where they were not registered to vote.
The IEC took the decision on review to the Constitutional Court‚ questioning whether the lack of addresses served to invalidate the entire voters’ roll.
On June 16 2016‚ the court ordered the IEC to collect the addresses of everyone on the voters’ roll after December 2013 and that the IEC provide progress reports every six months.
IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said on Wednesday their analysis was that of 26 million registered voters on the voters’ roll‚ about 19 million have addresses‚ about 3 million do not have addresses and about 4 million do not have complete addresses.
“Much progress has been made but we remain highly conscious that a huge undertaking remains in order to meet requirements of the law within the timeframe provided by the Constitutional Court‚” he said.
He said the absence of addresses remained a critical risk to the integrity of elections and that they have already seen a number of objections and postponements to by-elections this year on the basis of the accuracy of the voters’ roll
Mamabulo added that Treasury had committed R180-million in the next financial year to assist with the massive address harvesting campaign.
IEC vice-chairman‚ Terry Tselane‚ however said simply obtaining a physical address was only half the challenge.
He said there over 22‚600 voting districts in SA in over 4‚500 wards‚ with only lines on the map dividing voting districts and wards.
“Sometimes there is very little to distinguish between two voting districts which may be a matter of metres apart. One of the ways to resolve the challenge of the high degree of accuracy required is to propose amendments to the electoral legislation which will require the registration of a voter in the relevant ward rather than the relevant voting district. This will significantly reduce the pin-point accuracy required without any impact on the election outcome‚” Tselane said.