| Elections 2021: This is why you can’t take a picture of your marked ballot paper

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File image (Photo by Gallo Images/Jacques Stander)

File image (Photo by Gallo Images/Jacques Stander)

  • South Africans are reminded they may not take a photograph of their marked ballot paper.
  • The IEC says this is to protect the secrecy of your vote.
  • The municipal elections will be held on Monday.

As South Africans head out to various voting stations across the country to cast their vote on Monday, there is an important thing to remember: you may not take a photo of your marked ballot.

“It is also to be noted by all of us that it is prohibited for a voter to take a photograph of their marked ballot papers and this arrangement is necessary to protect the secrecy of the choice of the voters,” said the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), Glen Mashinini, during a briefing on Sunday.

Mashinini was speaking at the national results centre in Pretoria as the IEC wrapped up the final day of special voting.

The IEC’s chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, expanded on this reminder during the question and answer session.

He said it was not meant to police voters, but rather to protect the secrecy of the vote.

“I think the issue is not so much policing people, but rather persuading people to desist from taking the photograph of the marked ballot. Why? This is to protect the secrecy of their vote because that possibility of taking a marked ballot can be used quite nefariously,” he explained.

Mamabolo also used the example of vulnerable groups of society, who may be subjected to abuse due to this.

“There have been instances, in the past, where employers, especially for domestic workers, would say, go to the station, mark your ballot in a particular way, and come back with proof that you voted in a particular way.

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“So it’s about protecting the secrecy, yet, at the same time, protecting those vulnerable groups in society who may, at the behest of their bosses and employers, be subjected to abuse of that type,” he said.

Voting stations are expected to open across the country at 07:00 on Monday, and voters are reminded to follow Covid-19 protocols, including wearing a mask.

In addition, each voter in a metropolitan municipality will receive two ballot papers – one for their ward candidate and one for the political party – and voters in local municipalities will receive a third ballot paper, for the district council.

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Each ballot paper must be stamped on the reverse side to indicate the authenticity of the ballot during the counting process.

Mashinini said:

We also remind the voters to actually verify if the ballots passed to them has been stamped at the back. If it is not, kindly indicate to the officers at the station that your ballot paper, for whatever reason, is not compliant.

The IEC will provide and sanitise pens, but voters are encouraged, should they wish to do so, due to Covid-19, to bring their own pens.

Mamabolo said there was no specified colour of pen; it simply had to be permanent ink of any colour.

Voting stations are expected to close at 21:00. However, if you are in the line at this time, you will not be turned away.

Stay updated with News24’s latest coverage, opinion and analysis of Elections 2021. Check out results from the previous municipal elections.

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