Pressespiegel, Politik, Konsular

16. März 2009

All Registered South African Citizens Abroad Can Vote

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said it was ready to accommodate registered voters living overseas, following Thursday's Constitutional Court judgment on the matter. "All we have to look at now is the numbers we are talking about," said chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula after the judgment in Johannesburg.

In two judgments, the court ruled that all registered voters living overseas can vote for national assembly representation on 22 April provided they notify the commission of their intention by 27 March.

They must also tell the chief electoral officer where they intend voting. The chief electoral officer then informs the head of the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad of the voter's intention.

But, the court did not support an application to allow registration overseas, nor a vote for provincial representation.

"We are relieved this is over," said Tlakula. "There is certainty on the matter and we will able to start preparing for overseas votes."

About 5,000 people had already notified the commission of their intention to vote, in addition to the 23,112,936 people currently on the voters' roll.

"We expect the numbers will maybe double or more."

According to the judgment, in the 2004 national and provincial elections, nearly two million voters voted in districts other than those in which they were registered.

She was relieved the court only ruled for registered voters.

The Commission always planned for a "worst case scenario" and had previously had to provide three million extra ballot papers in a last minute court success by the African Christian Democratic Party in a previous election. "We had some contingency plans so it wasn't a problem for us."

Willie Spies, lawyer for Pretoria teacher Willem Richter who got the Pretoria High Court to support his bid to vote while he works in the UK, said he was very pleased with the judgment. "His mother (Richter's) is here and she will probably SMS him straight away," said Spies. "We got exactly what we asked for."

Anthony Penderis of the A-Party, who had hoped to get unregistered voters the right to register abroad, said the right to vote while abroad was a democratic success and they would work on the overseas registration.

Afriforum's Kallie Kriel said they would now concentrate on getting the overseas registered voters to get in touch with the IEC before the March deadline.

Handing down the first of two separate judgments, Justice Kate O'Regan said the right to vote had a symbolic and democratic value.

She quoted colleague Justice Albie Sachs from a previous vote-related judgment: "The precious value of the vote in South Africa arises in no small measure from a history in which the right to vote was denied to the majority of our citizens."

The court found that although voters had to make an effort to exercise their right to vote by driving to a polling station or an overseas Embassy, requiring people to travel from overseas to vote could not be seen as reasonable.

Section 33 of the Electoral Act had restricted the classes of people absent from the country on polling day who may vote to "temporary absence from the Republic for purposes of a holiday, a business trip, the attendance of a tertiary institution or an educational visit or participation in an international sports event".

The judgment noted that globalisation sees African citizens study and work abroad, with many sending money home or saving money to buy a house.

Their experience will enrich South African society, the judges said, and the fact that they want to vote shows their continued commitment to the country and their civic mindedness.

A second judgment by Justice Sandile Ngcobo questioned why unregistered voters had left their court challenge so late, given that it could lead to an undesirable delay to electoral deadlines.

The limitations had been in effect since 2003 and the applicants had not explained why they had left the matter so late, so they were denied access to the court on that challenge.

He explained that the effect of the two judgments is: "South African citizens abroad and who are registered as voters will be allowed to vote. Those who are not registered will not."

Source : Sapa /jog/gj   
Date : 12 Mar 2009 11:44 /&/ 12:53

NEWS24.COM 20090312

There are three ways to check if you are registered to vote with the IEC.
Expats can visit and enter their ID number and a verification code.

Inside South Africa, potential voters can SMS their ID number to 32810 or call the IEC on 0800 11 8000.

Additional Information from the IEC:

Following the Constitutional Court ruling of today, 12 March 2009, the IEC will release a formal, official public statement on the matter in due course.

In the interim, the following may be used to update your missions abroad: “South African citizens who are registered voters in South Africa and who intend to vote outside of South Africa in Elections 2009 are required to notify the IEC of SA of their intention to vote outside of SA by 27 March 2009.

The notification period has been extended by the Constitutional Court ruling of 12 March 2009. To notify the IEC, registered voters are required to complete a VEC 10 form and return it to the IEC by 27 March 2009. To obtain a VEC 10 form and IEC contact details, please refer to and go to `special votes’. To check if you are a registered voter, on the IEC’s web site go to `Am I registered’ and type in your identity number on-line.

Voting outside of SA for Elections 2009 will occur on 15 April 2009 (and not on 22 April 2009) at South African Diplomatic and Consular missions abroad. Once your notification to vote outside of SA is approved by the IEC, you are required to present both your bar-coded South African citizenship identity document (or valid temporary identity certificate) and your (South African) passport to a South African Diplomatic or Consular mission on 15 April 2009. 

In this regard, a citizen registered to vote outside the Republic will present both their bar-coded South African citizenship identity document (or valid temporary identity certificate) as well as their South African passport when voting.” Stuart Murphy Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), South Africa



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