IEC wants another extension to finalise voters’ roll – this time until after next year’s election

Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioner Glen Mashinini.
Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioner Glen Mashinini.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The Independent Electoral Commission will on Wednesday try to persuade the country’s highest court to grant it another extension to the deadline to collect and verify the addresses of all voters.

The urgent application will be heard at 10am in the Constitutional Court‚ and comes after the court had initially ordered the IEC in June 2016 to collect the addresses of everyone who appears on the voters’ roll after December 2013. 

According to notes issued by the court on Tuesday‚ it has already granted the IEC an interim extension to November 30 this year to complete the process – but the IEC is asking for more time and wants an extension to November 29 next year. This date will fall after the 2019 national and provincial election.

The court’s notes state that‚ at the time of the 2016 case‚ the IEC had on record only 34% of voters’ addresses. By December 2016‚ the Commission reported that it had captured the complete addresses of 72% of registered voters‚ but that subsequent reports “showed that there has been little progress since”.

The notes continue that‚ according to the IEC‚ the postponement of the deadline would not adversely affect the validity of the 2019 elections.

The matter originates after the Electoral Court in 2016 ordered the IEC to postpone by-elections in Tlokwe‚ North West‚ because opposition parties successfully argued that the commission was compelled to provide addresses for everyone on the voters’ roll. 

Opposition parties approached the court following allegations that the ANC had manipulated the roll‚ with some voters casting their ballots in wards where they were not registered to vote.

The IEC took the decision on review to the Constitutional Court‚ questioning whether the lack of addresses served to invalidate the entire voters’ roll.

The court previously said the IEC not compiling the addresses was inconsistent with the constitution’s values of accountability‚ responsiveness and openness.

The IEC wants the latest extension to collect all the addresses and to stop parties from challenging the fairness of next year’s elections on the grounds that not all addresses were collected.

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