Voting times, ballots and what you need to bring – everything you need to know about the 2024 election

 ·29 May 2024

South Africans will be heading to the polls on Wednesday, 29 May 2024, to make their mark in the country’s seventh democratic elections.

BusinessTech has looked at some of the important details from the Electoral Commission (IEC) regarding what to expect and prepare for on voting day.

Diagram of how the voting process will work. Graphic: IEC

What time are voting stations open?

A total of 23,292 polling stations will be open from 07h00 to 21h00 on May 29, 2024.


Where can I vote?

If you are over 18 and registered to vote, you can only vote at the voting station where you are registered, unless you have previously successfully applied for a Section 24A vote and notified the Commission of your intention to vote at another voting station

According to the IEC, “section 24A applications were open 15 March to 17 May [and] if you missed this opportunity, you have to vote where you are registered – you will not be allowed to vote at another voting station if you are not listed on the voters’ roll for that station,” added the IEC.

Politics expert Dr Sithembile Mbete confirmed this, saying that “parliament changed this [rule to require people to vote at their registered stations] in the Electoral Laws Amendment Act of 2021… because some parties raised concerns about double voting in 2019.”

“Section 24(A) was introduced to prevent double voting,” said Mbete.

To find out where you are registered, you can check your voter registration status online or SMS your ID number to 32810.


What do I need to bring?

Voters can only vote after presenting their South African, green, bar-coded IDsmartcard ID or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC).

The voting officer will use that to check if your name appears on the voters’ roll.

Once the voting officer is satisfied that you have the correct ID, are a registered voter and have not already voted, your name is marked off the roll, your ID book is stamped (does not apply to smart IDs) on the second page and your thumbnail is inked.

The IEC said that pens will be provided for voters (do not accept pencils marks could be altered).


What if I have lost my ID?

Home Affairs has announced extended opening hours for the collection of ID documents and the issuance of temporary IDs on election day.

Home Affairs will be open until 19H00 on Tuesday and 21H00 on Wednesday.


How many ballot papers will I receive?

This year marks a significant change in the electoral process, as independent candidates have been granted the opportunity to participate in the elections for the first time.

To facilitate this new development, the voting system has been adjusted to include three ballots, an increase from the previous two.

The first ballot is the national ballot. It lists the 52 political parties that are contesting for 200 seats in the National Assembly, and this ballot will be uniform across the entire country.

The second ballot is the regional ballot. This is where voters can select from both political parties and independent candidates who are competing for the 200 seats allocated to regions (provinces) within the National Assembly.

The third ballot is the provincial ballot, which varies by province. Through this ballot, voters will choose political parties and independent candidates to represent them in their respective provincial legislatures.

More information can be found below:


What will be on the ballot papers?

The commission said the design of the ballot papers will be underpinned by the following identifiers:

  • Full registered name of the party
  • The photograph of the registered party leader
  • Registered abbreviated name of the party
  • The registered emblem or symbol of the party

In respect to independent candidates, the ballot papers will have:

  • The name of the independent
  • The photograph bearing the face of the independent
  • The word “INDEPENDENT”

Every ballot paper is stamped at the back by an IEC official as you receive it to prevent people from trying to bring ballots in from elsewhere.


What do I do once I receive the ballot papers?

Upon confirming your eligibility to vote, the voting officer will stamp the back of the official ballot papers (one per election) and provide them to you.

Take your time to carefully read and understand the instructions on how to mark your vote correctly.

Proceed to an empty ballot booth to cast your vote. Remember, no IEC staff or party agents are allowed near the voting booths unless assistance is requested by the voter, ensuring the secrecy of your vote.

Once inside the booth, mark an “X” next to the candidate of your choice without letting your mark touch the walls of the box to avoid spoiling the ballot. Do not write your name or ID number on the ballot, as any additional marks may invalidate it.

If you make a mistake on your ballot, promptly inform an election official. They will cancel your ballot paper, and you will be provided with a new one.

After completing your vote, fold each ballot paper in half to conceal your choices, ensuring the secrecy of your vote. Place the folded ballots into their respective ballot boxes (national, provincial, and regional).


What if I need help voting?

You may ask the presiding officer for assistance in voting. They will then ask two party agents to observe the process, to ensure the presiding officer is voting correctly on your behalf.


Who do I contact to report something?

If you need to contact the IEC, a full list of their local offices with their respective contact details can be found here.


Is election day a public holiday?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in terms of Section 2A of the Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994), proclaimed the day of the election, 29 May 2024, to be a public holiday.


Other frequently asked questions and their answers can be found on the IEC website.


Read: IEC denies vote rigging claims and slams threats

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