Parliament has passed the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill and sent it to president Ramaphosa for assent.
The bill, designed to enhance the existing legislative mechanisms that ensure free and fair elections, was tabled in parliament in October 2018.
The bill aims to introduce amendments to the Electoral Commission Act, Electoral Act and the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act.
The bill also seeks to prevent possibilities of election results and legislative bodies’ constitution being challenged in court by any party or interested person on the basis of absence of addresses on the common voters’ roll.
According to the bill’s memorandum, the legislative intervention is “necessary to maintain political stability by protecting the legitimacy of the elected legislative bodies from which national and provincial governments derive authority to constitute themselves”.
Proposed amendments to the Electoral Commission Act include providing for the use of all available sources of data to obtain information necessary for the Commission to compile and maintain the national common voters’ roll; to provide for the electronic submission of party registration applications; to provide for the exclusive jurisdiction of the Electoral Court to adjudicate intra-party leadership disputes that have an impact on the Commission’s preparation for elections and to provide for the prohibition of the use of the name and its acronym, logo, designs or electoral material used or owned by the Commission.
Proposed amendments to the Electoral Act include revising the existing provisions relating to voter registration, voters’ roll, voting districts and voting procedure; to regulate the publication of, and objections to, a provisionally compiled voters’ roll ahead of elections in order to establish a structured process for resolving these objections without jeopardising the preparations for elections; to clarify that the election timetable may include any matter authorised in terms of the Electoral Act; to clarify that the voter’s roll to be used in an election must be that certified by the chief electoral officer for that election; to clarify that the cut-off date for the registration of voters for an upcoming election must be the date of proclamation of an election date; to provide for the chief electoral officer to notify the relevant parties where a candidate’s name appears on multiple party lists and to afford such parties an opportunity to substitute that candidate and re-order their party lists; to repeal the requirement that the identity document of a voter must be stamped as proof of voting; to provide for different voting procedure for voters without addresses on the voter’s roll; to provide for the circumstances under which an agent may object to a voter whose name appears on the segment of the voters’ roll for the voting district in which the voting station is located; to limit the class of persons who may apply for accreditation to provide voter education for an election to juristic persons and to align the provision regarding the circumstances in which new ballot papers may be issued to voters with the provisions of the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act, 2000.
Proposed amendments to the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act, 2000 include to regulate the publication of, and objections to, a provisionally compiled voters’ roll ahead of elections, in order to establish a structured process of resolving these objections without jeopardising the preparation for elections; to provide for the prohibition of the use of public finances to fund party political campaigns, and to provide for matters connected therewith.
The national council of provinces adopted the bill at a special plenary sitting last week.