Cabinet approves bill for South Africans living abroad to vote

2013-04-19 16:36

Cabinet has approved the Electoral Amendment Bill, which gives effect to a 2009 court order extending the right to cast special votes to South Africans living abroad.

It would be published for public comment, according to a statement issued today following Cabinet’s fortnightly meeting.

The bill will “improve the electoral process and enhance the reliability of the elections for the National Assembly and provincial legislatures”.

In the run-up to the 2009 elections, the Freedom Front Plus went to court, on behalf of a teacher from Pretoria temporarily working in England, to seek an order allowing South Africans abroad to cast their ballots.

The party argued the law was disenfranchising citizens.

The High Court in Pretoria found certain provisions of the Electoral Act unconstitutional and therefore invalid.

The judgment was confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was obliged to make provision for thousands of South Africans abroad to vote.

The current act allows the overseas vote to only government officials, sporting teams competing internationally, and people on business trips or holidays.

However, they have to notify the IEC within 15 days of the election date’s proclamation of their intention to vote.

Cabinet said the Home Affairs minister would call a briefing to explain the full implications of the amendment.

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