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Electoral commission readies tech for voter registration day

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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it has acquired 40 000 new voter management devices that will be used for the first time over the registration weekend.

This comes after the electoral body told Parliament in April that it was planning to replace the ageing existing registration devices, known as Zip-Zip scanners.

Briefing media yesterday, the IEC confirmed the voter registration weekend will be held on 18 and 19 September. It also reopened the process for political parties to register candidates for the upcoming local government elections.

The IEC says the new voter management devices will, in most registration stations, function online, highlighting this will facilitate the process of voter verification almost instantaneously.

“The mapping functionality on the device will facilitate the correct registration of voters in relation to the ward of ordinary residence. The expectation is that the registration data will be consolidated sooner than has hitherto been the case. This will allow for the inspection voters’ roll to be prepared and for objections to close on 23 September.”

Introduced in 1998, the mobile handheld Zip-Zip scanners have been a feature of elections in SA for many years. In 2009, it was revealed the IEC allocated a large portion of its technology budget to purchase 30 000 Zip-Zap units.

In November 2019, the electoral commission confirmed it was looking to procure new voter registration devices, describing its move as a way to enhance voter registration and monitor voter participation in real-time.

Following the voter registration weekend, the IEC notes the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs will on 20 September proclaim the date of the election.

The proclamation of the election date will cause the voters’ roll to be closed for purposes of the 2021 municipal elections, notes the commission.

The Constitutional Court has ruled the local government elections must take place between 27 October and 1 November this year.

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