How to vote – what happens at the polling station
Today on Election Day, as a first time voter or not, you might still be unsure about how to go about voting in the Municipal Elections or what happens at the voting station.
As a registered voter you need not be anxious about the voting process. What is important to remember is that you may only vote at the voting station where you are registered.
You can check your voting station by dialling *120*432# or by texting your ID number to 32810. You can also easily check your station by calling 0800 11 8000 or visiting the Independent Electoral Commission’s website on www.elections.org.za .
Once you have confirmation of your voting station address, you may visit your voting station (you are allowed to wear clothing which features party insignia) to vote.
Remember that voting stations will open from 7am to 7pm and that you will need to take identification with you.
An Electoral Commission (IEC) official will at the entrance of your voting station to check that you have a valid form of identification whether in the form of either your smartcard ID, your green barcoded ID or a temporary ID certificate.
The election official will scan the document and hand you a slip that confirms that you are a registered voter after which the officer will advise you where to go once you’re inside the voting station.
Once you’ve made your way into the voting station, you then proceed to the voter’s roll where officials will check your name and ID number against the voter’s roll for the specific voting district you’re voting in and your name will be manually crossed off the roll to ensure that voters only vote once.
Following that an official will ink — which does not wash off for a couple of days — your left thumb nail, after which you will receive your ballot papers with each ballot sporting a unique number. The ballot should also be stamped.
For national and provincial elections, a voter will generally receive two ballot papers, while for Municipal Elections, voters in metros and local councils will receive two ballot papers.
This will be one ballot for a ward councillor and one for a political party as part of the proportional representation (PR) section of the election. Voters in areas which form part of a district council receive a third ballot paper for the district council election.
This year, the Pan Africanist Movement (PAM) tops the PR ballot papers in all municipalities where it is contesting municipal elections following a random draw to select the party which will top the ballot paper. Other parties contesting the elections will follow each other alphabetically.
If using your green ID book to vote in the elections, it will then be stamped by an election official to show that you participated in the election.
Following that, you will then be directed to an empty voting booth where you will place an “X” in the box next to the political party or candidate of your choice.
It is important to remember that you are not allowed to photograph your marked ballot paper. And, you are not allowed to share it on social media.
It’s important to make sure that you do not spoil your vote by ensuring that you make only one mark on each ballot paper and that your mark is clear.
If you happen to make a mistake, call an election official who will give you a new ballot paper. Once you have cast your “X” fold your ballot papers in half and leave the voting booth.
An official stationed at the ballot box will check that there is a stamp at the back of each of your ballots. Having made your mark drop your completed ballot paper through the slot in the top of the ballot box.
After casting your vote, you will then be directed to the exit. Remember that political party representatives and independent observers (both national and international) are present throughout the voting and counting process to observe the process and to ensure it is free and fair.
This year’s Local Government Elections are poised to be the largest ever with over 200 political parties and over 61 000 candidates participating.