The DA and DA Abroad continue to pursue improved access to voting for South Africans living abroad, a key issue being the lack of voting stations where South Africans live around the world.
In November 2017, the DA’s Deputy Chief Whip, Mike Waters, asked the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, as to the whether her department is taking steps to ensure that there are more voting stations situated at overseas venues, where a sufficient number of South Africans live and are registered; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details. He also asked what she had found to be the number of citizens that constitutes a sufficient number?
In response, the Minister confirmed that the Electoral Commission (IEC) has undertaken a review of procedures for voting outside the Republic in national elections following the 2014 national elections, and plans to approach the Department of International Relations & Co-operation (DIRCO) for the consideration of the possible expansion of the number of voting facilities outside of the Republic for the 2019 national elections, where diplomatic missions proved to be inadequate.
The IEC need to work in partnership with DIRCO as section 33(3) and 33(4) of the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 presently limit points of voting outside South Africa to embassies, high commissions and consulates. This is so because the Electoral Commission is dependent on DIRCO’s available human resources and related infrastructure for registration and voting arrangements outside of the Republic.
Minister Dlodlo further stated that operational details of this proposition including the threshold for number of registered voters per voting facility outside of the Republic are yet to be discussed and determined.
The DA Abroad welcomes the confirmation that the important issue of more voting stations is being discussed by the IEC and DIRCO and encourages urgency on this matter considering the imminence of the 2019 National Elections.
It is our view that Voting Districts with Mobile (temporary) Voting Stations should be established outside the Republic where there are a considerable number and distribution of eligible voters
According to the IEC website voting districts in South Africa are determined “on the basis of geographical size and number of eligible voters. Urban voting districts contain some 3,000 voters located within a radius of some 7,5 km of the voting station. Rural voting districts accommodate some 1,200 voters located within a radius of some 10 km of the voting station.”
Taking this into account, we believe the same basis of determination should be applied for the establishment of voting districts and stations outside of the Republic, especially where there are eligible voters in cities and countries where there are not South African embassies, high commissions and consulates.
Based on research conducted by the DA Abroad, using census data from foreign countries to identify the distribution of the South African diaspora around, there is a strong need for additional voting stations in at least the following cities:
Miami, Florida – USA (Est. SA Population = 10,000)
Austin, Texas – USA (Est. SA Population =9,000)
Vancouver – Canada (Est. SA Population = 6,000)
Brisbane – Australia (Est. SA Population = 40,133)
Perth – Australia (Est. SA Population =41,008)
Sydney – Australia (Est. SA Population = 43,059)
Melbourne – Australia (Est. SA Population = 27,188)
Auckland – New Zealand (Est. SA Population = 30,612)
Edinburgh – United Kingdom (Est. SA Population =10,607)
Newcastle – United Kingdom (Est. SA Population = 3,000)
Bristol – United Kingdom (Est. SA Population = 24,000)
Manchester or Liverpool – United Kindgom (Est. SA Population = 13,000)
Requested Improvements to Overseas Voting
Further to the request for increasing the number of voting stations abroad, the DA Abroad and DA are also campaigning for the following with regards to improved overseas voting access in the 2019 national elections:
- Overseas voting days to be held on a weekend
- Removing the requirement for a passport to be presented when voting
- Establishing voting stations as counting stations (to avoid overseas votes note being included in the count due to courier delays as previously experienced in 2014)
- Improving the performance of DIRCO who manage overseas voter registration and the voting stations
For more information about this campaign or to find out more about how you to vote abroad email email@example.com
Please also check out our Voting Abroad FAQs for more information.