IEC voting station. (Elmarie Jack, News24)
Potchefstroom - Only about 1 300 of the nearly 10 000 Tlokwe residents without physical addresses have re-registered to vote in the upcoming local government elections, the IEC said on Wednesday.
The IEC reopened its voting stations in Tlokwe twice to comply with the Constitutional Court’s ruling in June, Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) provincial officer Tumi Thiba told News24.
The last chance for Tlokwe voters to re-register for the August 3 elections was the past weekend.
IEC employees were still sorting through the information the voters provided.
“Once we have gone through all the forms, we will be able to check how many people were part of those 9 953 that we were looking for,” she said.
“We hope that we will get a significant number of voters with addresses.”
The Constitutional Court ruled on June 14 that the IEC’s failure to compile a voters’ roll with addresses was inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid. It suspended the declaration of invalidity until June 30, 2018, meaning that the August 3 elections could go ahead with an incomplete voters’ roll.
For Tlokwe however, the IEC had to ensure it got addresses in time for the August 3 election.
‘Not free and fair’
The case stemmed from a November 2015 Constitutional Court ruling that the 2013 Tlokwe by-elections in the North West were not free and fair. The African National Congress won all contested wards, except one.
Before the by-elections, several independent candidates complained to the IEC that some voters were registered in wards in which they did not live.
The candidates approached the Electoral Court to have the by-elections postponed. The court was unable to convene to hear the application. The by-elections went ahead and six of the candidates lost.
The IEC subsequently found that 1 040 voters had been incorrectly registered on the voters' roll.
The Constitutional Court set the by-election results aside. These were to be re-run in February this year. All new voters were required to provide details of their address, or sufficient details of where they lived, in order for them to be placed in a voting district.
The Tlokwe by-elections, however, were halted just a day before they were to take place. Independent candidates examined the voters’ roll and discovered that more than 4 000 voters’ addresses were still outstanding. They successfully challenged the validity of the voters’ roll in the Electoral Court.
In response, the IEC approached the Constitutional Court in April. It argued that the Electoral Court’s interpretation of the November 2015 judgment was wrong, and that it was only obliged to furnish voters’ addresses which it already had in its possession.
The IEC said that, before 2003, it was not required to keep addresses of voters and it highlighted that the lack of a voters’ address did not make the roll irregular.
It said around eight million dwellings did not have an address and many did not have a tarred road running next to them.
Last month, Parliament was told that the IEC did not have addresses for up to 46% of the more than 26 million people registered to vote in the August elections.
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