South Africa plans to pilot e-voting

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says that it is considering the introduction of electronic voting in an effort to increase efficiencies in the elections process in South Africa.

Presenting to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday (7 July), chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo indicated that ‘e-voting’ was still in the early stages of consideration and would first be trialled as part of a pilot project.

“In order to increase efficiencies in the electoral process and to ameliorate intractable challenges especially in the counting and capturing of results, the commission has proposed an e-voting pilot project.

“The foremost consideration in the use of technology is to drive down the costs of elections and increase operational efficiencies.”

The IEC indicated that the project is currently unfunded and that it has held discussions with Treasury.

The commission did not provide information on the scale of the pilot project, including information on whether it will incorporate a full online voting system or more simple systems of electronic tabulating.

Electoral changes

In June, the ruling ANC called for the introduction of e-voting and other forms of ‘alternative voting’ as part of a series of electoral reforms for the country.

The ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) discussed a range of responses to these and other challenges impacting South Africa’s electoral system.

Some of the proposals include:

  • Combining elections – Magashule said that the ANC considered the ‘desirability of synchronisation’ of elections at national, provincial and local spheres of government;
  • Constituency-based representation – The desirability of introducing elements of constituency-based representation at national and provincial spheres, consistent with the constitutional requirement for an electoral system that results, in general, in proportional representation;
  • Alternative voting – Alternative methods of conducting elections, including the use of electronic voting.

“The NWC discussed these proposals in the context of strengthening the accountability of responsiveness of democratic institutions and the building of a more effective and capable development state,” said the party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule.

“In this regard, the NWC also considered the impact of the electoral system on the strengthening of the district development model seeking to align planning, budgeting, and implementation across national, provincial and local spheres of government.”


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South Africa plans to pilot e-voting