NCOP passes bill which seeks to cut red tape preventing people without addresses to vote

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A new bill may pave the way for those without addresses to vote.
A new bill may pave the way for those without addresses to vote.
File/News24
  • The National Council of Provinces passed the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill on Tuesday.
  • The NCOP's stamp of approval comes as political parties prepare for this year's local government elections.
  • The bill was supported by the ANC, EFF and IFP.

Voters without addresses may soon cast their ballots without any hiccups, albeit "in a different voting procedure".

On Tuesday, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, introduced to deal with the issue of voters with no addresses.

The bill also proposed electronic voting, but Parliament's Home Affairs Committee rejected this proposal.

The NCOP's stamp of approval comes as political parties prepare for this year's local government elections.

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Clause 20 of the legislation amends section 47 of the Municipal Electoral Act to provide for a different voting procedure for those voters whose names appear on the voters' roll without addresses.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) may prescribe a different voting procedure provided that if such a voter's place of ordinary residence is located outside the relevant ward and its voters' roll, the voter concerned may not vote in the ward election.

The same applies to local, metropolitan and district elections.

Last year, News24 reported the IEC was investigating 1.1 million potentially incomplete addresses on the voters' roll, while another 1.2 million registered voters had no address at all.

Incomplete

At the time, it was revealed the country has 26.5 million registered voters and, of these, 24.1 million have complete addresses, 1.1 million have a "potentially incomplete" addresses and 1.2 million have no addresses at all.

Former "homeland" areas and informal settlements were most affected.

In June 2016, the Constitutional Court gave the IEC 18 months to rectify shortcomings on the voters' roll and problems with missing addresses.

Having an address attached to a voter is especially important for local government elections, where half the number of councillors are elected from wards.

The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill will amend three pieces of legislation.

These are the Electoral Commission Act, the Electoral Act and the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act.

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Clause 16 of the bill seeks to amend schedule 3 of the Electoral Act to allow for the determination of the number of seats in a provincial legislature by the IEC ahead of every election.

"The determination of a number of seats of provincial legislatures had to take place by 31 March 1999 and was a one-off exercise with no provision to be updated since. Currently, the legislation provides for a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 80 seats in a provincial legislature and this has remained unchanged," the bill reads.

The ANC, IFP and EFF supported the bill while the DA voted against it.

The Bill will now be sent back to the National Assembly for further consideration.

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