IEC unveils sweeping electoral reforms: New draft regulations
The Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa has recently unveiled a series of draft regulations for public scrutiny.
The Electoral Commission (IEC) in August published a myriad of draft regulations for public comment.
In a statement, the IEC said these were a sequel to the promulgation of the Electoral Amendment Act. “The Amendment Act heralds a new framework for the participation of independent candidates in national and provincial elections,” said the Commission.
There are six published draft regulations; their salient aspects are:
AMENDMENT TO THE ELECTIONS REGULATIONS:
• The regulations are amended to simplify procedures for South Africans voting by special votes out of the Republic. • Furthermore, these draft regulations clarify that voters who intend to vote in voting stations in which they are not registered should give pre-notification of their intention by a date to be specified in the election timetable.
• The implication of the pre-notification is that a request may no longer be made at a voting station on voting day. Amendment to the voter registration regulations:
• The regulations are amended to make provision for on-line registration modalities for prospective voters both in South Africa and out of the Republic.
• It clarifies the particulars that must be entered on the voters’ roll. Amendment to the regulations relating to activities permissible outside voting stations on voting day:
• The regulations are amended to broaden their scope of application to include independent candidates and their agents.
Amendment to the regulations for the registration of political parties:
• The amendment makes provision for online application for the registration of a party.
• Provides that party information is entitled to protection under the Protection of Personal Information Act.
• It clarifies that a party’s distinguishing symbol registered with the Electoral Commission will be those used on the ballot paper.
AMENDMENTS TO REGULATIONS ON PARTY LIAISON COMMITTEES:
• The amendments are intended to extend the application of the regulation to independent candidates and their representatives.
• They will facilitate the representation of independent representatives in Political Liaison Committees (PLCs). Amendment to the regulation concerning submission of candidates:
• The regulations are amended to facilitate the nomination of independent candidates and regulate the requirements for their participation in elections.
• Sections 27(3)(a) and 31B(3)(b) of the Act provides that political parties and independent candidates intending to contest elections must deposit amounts to be prescribed by the Commission.
• The draft regulation also contains the proposed amounts to be paid as election deposits by political parties and independent candidates intending to contest elections.
• The legitimate purpose for levying a deposit is to minimise frivolity and to establish contestants who are earnest in their participation. This in turn enables the Commission to make proper arrangements for the exercise of the right to stand for public office.\
Key considerations informing the proposed deposits are:
• The amount of deposits was last adjusted in 2014.
• The amount in respect for the National Assembly elections is proposed to be adjusted for inflation.
• In terms of section 31B(6) of the Act, the amount to be deposited by an independent candidate contesting an election of a provincial legislature, must be less than the amount for contesting an election of the National Assembly.
• Furthermore, the quantum of deposits levied for independent candidates may also be different to the deposits prescribed by political parties.
“The South African public is urged to comment on the Commission’s proposals encapsulated in the six draft regulations. The deadline for public comment is 27 August 2023. The Commission values the input of all citizens and calls upon all South Africans to comment on the regulations,” said the IEC.