South African voters to receive three ballots in the 2024 election – what you need to know

 ·24 Mar 2024

In South Africa’s 2024 general elections taking place on 29 May, voters will make their mark on three ballot papers instead of the usual two

Previously, voters would receive one ballot for the National Assembly and one for the provincial legislature.

Voters will now receive three different coloured ballots to make one mark on each, representing:

  • A national ballot for the National Assembly;
  • A regional ballot for the National Assembly;
  • A provincial ballot for the Provincial Legislature.
Screenshot: IECSouthAfrica on X

The Electoral Commission’s (IEC) deputy chief electoral officer Mawethu Mosery, explained the introduction of the additional ballot to Newzroom Afrika, saying that there are 400 seats in the National Assembly that are divided into two parts.

The first is made up of 200 seats for national representation by political parties, which are technically called the national compensatory seat allocation process.

“The first ballot will be for the election of the compensatory 200 members of the National Assembly, which is only contested by political parties on a closed list basis,” said the IEC.

The second part is made up of the other 200 seats “representing regions,” or commonly put, the nine provinces, which each have a predetermined number of seats.

“This ballot will vary from region to region, depending on which parties and independent candidates contest the relevant regional election,” said the IEC.

“Only the names of political parties and independent candidates that have met the requirements to contest each regional election will appear on this ballot,” it added.

“There was always a discussion of how do we keep provincial interest in national policy discussions and they came up with a format of regions being represented at the National Assembly,” explained Mosery.

Mosery said that the additional ballot for the National Assembly accommodates both the regional representation, as well as the “new phenomenon in this election, which is independent candidates contesting to be at the National Assembly and through this regional ballot, they will then contest the election and if they get sufficient votes [meet the determined quota], they will go [to parliament].”

According to the IEC website, the regional seats are allocated as follows:

  • Gauteng – 48
  • KwaZulu-Natal – 41
  • Eastern Cape – 25
  • Western Cape – 23
  • Limpopo – 19
  • Mpumalanga – 15
  • North West – 13
  • Free State – 11
  • Northern Cape – 5
Map: IEC

The IEC sets a quota for a seat by dividing all valid votes by number of seats, then adding one to the result and disregarding fractions. The total number of valid votes cast in favour is then divided by the quota.

For the regional vote, this differs slightly per province. For example, it is 92,601 votes for one of Gauteng’s 48 seats, while it is 68,474 votes for one of Northern Cape’s five seats.

Conversely, when contesting for the provincial legislature, independent candidates will be on the same ballot as everyone else.

“The third ballot, the provincial ballot, will be for electing the members of the provincial legislature in each province,” said the IEC.

“It contains the names of the political parties and independent candidates that have met the requirements to contest each provincial election.”

Map: IEC

According to the IEC, if an independent candidate obtains votes that entitle it to more than one seat, that candidate’s additional seat is forfeited.

Read: South Africa’s record 2024 election – all the stats you need to know

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