Confusion as voter’s personal info asked for special vote

2014-05-06 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG voter casting his special vote yesterday was taken aback when he was told to write his name, ID number and voting district on one of the envelopes carrying his special vote.

Mark Morcom, voting with his wife at All Saints Church near Grey’s Hospital, said he feared the confidentiality of their votes might have been compromised.

But, a political analyst said Morcom should not panic as that was standard procedure when casting special votes. It is meant to make sure that the people who applied for the special vote and those who voted are the same.

Professor Dirk Kotze of Unisa, who is observing the elections, said the use of two envelopes is standard procedure and the voters should not fear that their vote is no longer confidential.

The voter puts his ballot paper in one envelope and seals it, and that envelope is placed inside another envelope with the details of the voter written on the outside, said Kotze.

“The outer envelope with the voter’s details is just there so that the details can be reconciled with the list of the people who are on the list of special votes. Once that is done, the outer envelope will be discarded and the envelope containing the ballot paper will be put into the ballot box where it will be mixed with others,” he continued.

Morcom said he feared this could easily lead to intimidation. “The first thing we realised was that my wife’s ballot papers were not stamped on the back and we went to have them stamped.

“We then voted and our votes were put in an envelope. We moved to the next desk where that envelope was put in another envelope with our names and ID numbers and voting district on the outside of the envelope. I was shocked by this and I asked how this could be as my vote was supposed to be a secret.

“The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) rules states that the votes are secret … How can — if we have to put our names and ID numbers on the envelopes — the votes be a secret. I am not afraid of intimidation but there are people out there who would be intimidated,” he said.

His drama escalated when the IEC officials did not put his vote into a sealed ballot box. “They put it on a couch and said, ‘Thank you for voting’. I asked them why they were not putting it in a sealed ballot box and they said they cannot do that as the ballot will be sealed at 5 pm this afternoon.”

He said when he complained about this, they finally put the envelopes in a plastic bag and said, “There, it’s in something”. He said he forced them to put it into a ballot box.

An IEC official at the All Saints Church confirmed the issue but said there was nothing untoward as this was part of a standard voting procedure.

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