Still no decision on e-voting says IEC

2014-11-07 00:00

IS ELECTRONIC voting on the ballot paper for South Africa?

Though the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is researching the issue it is yet to vote on the matter.

Last year the IEC held a seminar on e-voting around the question “An Enabler or Disabler to Strengthening Electoral Democracy?”.

The seminar included case studies from different countries as well as a presentation by Surendra Thakur, Durban University of Technology’s e-Skills Director, Information Technology who was commissioned by the IEC to research e-voting and its possible application in South Africa.

In an earlier interview Thakur told The Witness that South Africa met the criteria for e-voting. “We have a history of free and fair elections, they are robust, there have been few quarrels about ballots, and there are clear winners.”

However, according to Kate Bapela, IEC Chief Communication Officer, its position on e-voting remains unchanged since the 2013 conference and the IEC is still “monitoring global trends and best practices in the use of voting technologies” so that when it adopts a position on e-voting it is “both informed and evidence-based”.

According to Bapela the advantages of e-voting for South Africa would include “fast and accurate vote counting” and a reduction in the number of spoilt votes cast. Plus there is the “green factor” which would see a “reduction in use of paper ballots and transportation and storage of paper ballots”.

Among the disadvantages would be the cost of purchasing and maintaining e-voting technologies, as well as concerns around data security. Bapela said there was an “absence of consistent global standards to certify and audit e-voting technologies”.

She said that internationally there was no definite move “towards or away” from e-voting.

Responding to claims e-voting would strengthen South Africa’s democracy by involving young people more at ease with technology Bapela said this was based on the assumption that e-voting would be via the Internet. “There are other types of e-voting such as electronic voting machines … in voting stations and thus still require voters to visit polling stations to vote.”

“The evidence gleaned thus far does not suggest that e-voting technologies improves or increases voter turnout — regardless of the age of voters. Additional empirical evidence is needed, however, to provide a definitive response on youth and voter participation in the electoral process.”


We have a history of free and fair elections, they are robust, there have been few quarrels about ballots, and there are clear winners.

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