New bill proposes changes for South Africans voting overseas

With South Africa entering into the 2019 national elections campaign season in earnest, there has been a flurry of new legislation introduced and passed as parliament prepares for an extended mid-year break.

One of these proposed bills is set to be introduced by DA MP Michael Waters, who announced on Friday (1 June), that he was planning to submit a private member’s bill introducing a number of changes for South Africans who vote overseas.

This follows a push by the DA to increase the number of overseas voting stations in areas where a significant number of South Africans live, who are registered to vote.

Based on research conducted by the DA abroad – using census data from foreign countries to identify the distribution of the South African diaspora around – there is a strong need for additional voting stations in at least the following cities:

City Country Estimated South African population
Miami, Florida USA 10 000
Austin, Texas USA 9 000
Vancouver Canada 6 000
Brisbane Australia 40 133
Perth Australia 41 008
Sydney Australia 43 059
Melbourne Australia 27 188
Auckland New Zealand 30 612
Edinburgh United Kingdom 10 607
Newcastle United Kingdom 3 000
Manchester/Liverpool United Kingdom 13 000
Bristol United Kingdom 24 000

In addition to increasing the number of stations, the draft Electoral Amendment Bill proposes that these overseas voting stations are not limited to consulates, embassies or high commissions, allowing for more remote voters to be able to cast their ballot without travelling great distances.

The draft bill also proposes that:

  • All South African citizens to be permitted to register to vote on production of a valid ID document only.
  • The day designated for overseas casting of votes to necessarily fall on a weekend.
  • Vote counting procedures to properly account for differences in time zones when considering deadlines.
  • Voters ordinarily based overseas to be provided with provincial ballots as well as national ballots.

Read: 4 major new bills have just been approved by Cabinet – here’s what you need to know

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New bill proposes changes for South Africans voting overseas