Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi has announced his intention to introduce the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill to the National Assembly.
Motsoaledi gazetted an explanatory summary of the Amendment Bill on Wednesday (9 September), detailing some of the big changes included in the bill.
While the legislation primarily appears to consolidate and streamline the elections process, it does make way for more significant changes in the future, such as electronic voting.
The most notable changes are outlined in more detail below.
- Paperless – The bill will discontinue the requirement to submit paper documents by political parties in order to facilitate seamless and electronic submission of documents relating to candidates;
- Electronic voting – The proposed amendments will allow the electoral commission to prescribe a method of voting other than the current paper ballot method, such as electronic voting;
- Voters roll – The bill will allow a different voting procedure for voters whose names appear on the certified voters’ roll on voting day but without an address recorded on the voters’ roll;
- Applications – The bill will regulate the application procedure for the registration of parties intending to contest municipal elections at district and metropolitan level;
- Clarification – The bill aims to clarify the dates that the Electoral Code of Conduct is operative and binding on contestants in municipal elections.
You can read the full explanatory memorandum below.
Constitutional Court judgement
Government will also have to address a June Constitutional Court judgement which found that the country’s Electoral Act is unconstitutional as it does not provide for adult citizens to be elected to the National and Provincial Legislatures as independent candidates.
The Electoral Act 73 of 1998 currently only allows political parties to contest in the country’s national and provincial elections.
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) presented a number of possible electoral changes to parliament in July, including a move to a different type of ‘winner’ system.
IEC chief executive officer Sy Mamabolo said that it would ultimately be up to the country’s lawmakers on which system they choose to follow.
He added that there are two main families of electoral systems in the world – proportional and pluralist, or majoritarian systems. In other nomenclature these are known as single-winner systems or multi-winner (multi-member) systems, he said.
“All single-winner systems are, by definition, winner-take-all. Multi-winner systems may be proportional or winner-take-all,” he said.
However, he noted that between these two broad families of systems, ‘mixed systems’ have begun to emerge.
“Sometimes it makes sense to elect just one person in instances where there is a single position,” he said. “However, when electing a legislative body, there is a real decision to make between using single-winner and multi-winner districts.
“(This means the) choice of electoral system has profound consequences.”