The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill has been passed by parliament and sent to president Ramaphosa for assent.
Earlier this month, the national council of provinces (NCOP) passed the bill with proposed amendments and returned it to the national assembly (NA) for concurrence.
The bill was tabled in parliament in September 2020.
Cabinet approved the draft bill at the end of August 2020 for tabling in parliament.
The bill aims to amend three pieces of legislation, namely, the Electoral Commission Act of 1996; Electoral Act of 1998 and Local Government Municipal Electoral Act of 2000.
According to the cabinet statement, the proposed changes will “enhance the existing legislative mechanism. The amendments will, amongst others, introduce innovations in electoral practices in keeping with best practices to improve the Independent Electoral Commission’s efficiency in managing elections”.
The bill aims to amend the—
• Electoral Commission Act, 1996, so as to insert certain definitions; to streamline the provisions for the registration of political parties; to provide for the registration of parties in respect of particular provinces, district and metropolitan municipalities and to repeal provisions relating to registration of parties in respect of particular local municipalities; to repeal obsolete provisions;
• Electoral Act, 1998, so as to insert certain definitions; to delete the provisions regarding public access to the voters’ roll; to update references to repealed legislation; to amend provisions allowing voters to vote in a voting district where they are not registered; to amend provisions relating to the submission of lists of candidates; to amend provisions relating to special votes in elections for the National Assembly; to amend provisions relating to the procedure concerning provisional results and voting materials; to provide for the limited applicability of the Code; to amend Schedule 3; and
• Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act, 2000, so as to insert and delete certain definitions; to amend the requirements for parties contesting elections by way of party lists and for a ward candidate to contest elections; to authorise the Commission to prescribe a different voting procedure for those voters whose names appear on the voters’ roll, without addresses; to amend provisions relating to the effect of certain irregularities, and to provide for matters connected therewith.
The NA passed the bill and sent it to the NCOP for concurrence in December 2020.
During deliberations, the portfolio committee on home affairs rejected clause 14 that would have empowered the Commission to prescribe a different voting method.
The select committee on security and justice proposed a new subsection (2) for Section 16 of the Electoral Act focused on the provision of information regarding the voters’ roll by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Amendments were also proposed to Section 47 of the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act on the prescribing of different voting procedures for voters on the voters’ roll without addresses.
The portfolio committee on home affairs adopted the proposed amendments.