Electoral Amendment Act in Force

Department of Home Affairs

Proposed legislation designed to allow South Africans living abroad to vote in national elections has been signed into law.

Parliament passed the Electoral Amendment Bill at the beginning of November 2013.

The bill was tabled in Parliament in July 2013. Cabinet approved the bill at the end of June 2013.

The Electoral Amendment Act intends extending the Electoral Act’s scope on special votes to include South African citizens living and working in foreign jurisdictions.

South African citizens abroad will have to produce their passports in addition to IDs when registering to vote.

They would also have to notify the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of their intention to vote within 15 days after the date of the election has been announced.

Prisoners in local jails would also be allowed to vote even if their name appears on a voters’ role in another voting district to where the prison is situated.

The act also calls for two party agents to be present in each room of a voting station if stations use more than one room to vote and count.

Previously the law called for two party agents per voting station irrespective of the number of rooms.

Special votes are also proposed for those South Africans who cannot vote in their voting station as a result of:

•    their physical infirmity, disability or pregnancy;
•    being on national duty as a member of the security forces in connection with elections; or
•    absence from their voting district because they are serving as officers of the elections.

The act flows from a 2009 court order extending the right to cast special votes to those South Africans living abroad.

The act came into effect on 26 November 2013.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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