Process of shipping voting material to 78,000 SA citizens abroad under way

The electoral commission (IEC) in collaboration with the department of international relations & co-operation (DIRCO) has begun shipping voting material including voting booths, ballot papers, stationery packs and lists of approved voters to South African missions across the world.

The IEC said 78,092 South African citizens will vote outside the country at 111 foreign missions.

It said voting is not possible in some countries for security reasons.

DIRCO has confirmed that the South African missions in Sudan, Tel Aviv and Kyiv remain closed.

“Unavoidably and regrettably, voters registered at these two missions will not be able to vote in the forthcoming elections, if they were not able to make arrangements by April 22 to vote at another mission,” the IEC said.

It said voting outside the country will take place on Friday May 17 in nine countries and in other countries vote on Saturday May 18.

“Voting stations will open from 7am to 7pm, allowing 78,092 voters to exercise their right to vote in South Africa’s 2024 national elections,” it said.

South African citizens in Algeria, Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Kuwait City, Judah, Ramallah, Riyadh and Tehran will vote on Friday May 17, from 7am to 7pm.

“The rest of the 102 missions listed in the schedule and on the website will be open for special votes on Saturday May 18 between 7am and 7pm.

In respect of the mission in the UK, the commission has determined two days of special voting. These are Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19 from 7am-9pm. The additional special voting day and extended voting hours are intended to enable proper arrangements for the 24,535 voters entitled to vote at the mission. Similarly, extended voting hours have been prescribed for the missions in Washington DC and New York. The voting hours are 7am-9pm,” it said.

According to the commission, London has the biggest international voting population (24,535 eligible voters). The Hague (6,659), Canberra (3,674), Dubai (3,266), Dublin (3,040), Wellington (2,292), Abu Dhabi (1,825), New York (1,799), Washington, DC (1,799), and Berlin (1,478).

On special voting day, the IEC said voters will need to present in person at a mission at which they are registered (or where they have successfully applied for a special vote by VEC 10 notice) and will vote after presenting their identity documents.

After being issued with a ballot paper, the voter will mark the ballot in secret and place and seal it in an unmarked envelope.

“The unmarked envelope is placed in another envelope that is marked with the name, ID number and the name of the mission where the vote was cast. The use of two envelopes is to ensure the secrecy of the ballot by delinking the voter and the ballot cast.

“Election officials take the envelope and place it in a secure ballot box for special votes. After the voting process, cast national compensatory ballots will be transported through a secure channel back to the national office of the electoral commission for counting. The voters will be counted in the presence of agents representing contestants,” it said.

The electoral commission said it will operate extended hours on both voting days abroad to assist voters with queries.

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