IEC explains system used to determine party positions on ballot paper

Image: GULSHAN KHAN / AFP

The IEC has explained the elaborative process it underwent to decide which political party will be on top of the ballot paper on May 8th.

The top spot was won by the African Security Congress.

The commission said in designing the ballot paper it ensured that the document enables the voter to easily identify the party of their choice.

Previously, the IEC used a random draw to determine the first party on the ballot paper with all parties then following in alphabetical order.

But in  preparation for the upcoming elections, the IEC appointed the Human Sciences Research Council to conduct research to investigate key aspects of the usability of the ballot paper with a view to introducing enhancements to the design.

“The outcome of the research proposed certain areas of enhancement to improve the legibility of the ballot paper and to accentuate distinguishing features between political parties on the ballot. These have been incorporated into the ballot paper design for 2019 National and Provincial Elections – including a re-ordering of the sequence of party identifiers on the ballot paper as follows: 1. Full party name 2. Party leader photograph 3. Abbreviation 4. Party logo,” the IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said on Tuesday.

She said it was established during the research that there was potential for confusion among voters as a result of some party identifiers that use similar colours, abbreviations and logos.

A specific recommendation was then made that parties that may cause confusion to the voter ought to be separated on the ballot paper.

“The proposed solution was to retain the random draw for the first party on the ballot paper and thereafter follow the alphabetical order of parties as determined by the party at the top of the ballot. Additionally another random draw be conducted to help separate parties which may cause confusion to the voter…two random draws were conducted during the code of conduct signing ceremony held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on 20 March 2019,” said Bapela.

The party drawing the highest number would feature in its usual place on the ballot paper in terms of alphabetical order.

The party drawing the smallest number would drop to the end of the sequence of political parties starting with the letter “A” on the ballot paper, the IEC said.

The party drawing the second highest number would lose its usual position in the alphabetical order and would be inserted in the middle of the alphabetical sequence of parties starting with the letter “A”.

“During the draw, the African Independent Congress (AIC) drew the highest number and therefore retained its alphabetical position on the ballot paper (between the African Democratic Change and African Renaissance Unity parties). The African People’s Convention (APC) drew the smallest number which meant it moved to the end of those parties starting with the letter “A” on the ballot paper,” Bapela said.

The African National Congress drew the second highest number and therefore lost its position in the alphabetical order and was placed in the middle of the list of parties starting with the letter “A”.

A second draw then followed to select the party to top the ballot paper. This was won by the African Security Congress (ASC).

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