SA Voter Verification System Outdated – IEC Chair

Riyaz Patel

South Africa’s voter verification system is so outdated it would not survive another election, the chairman of Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has warned.

“If we go into [other] elections with these systems, we will act irresponsibly.”

“If we go into [other] elections with these systems, we will act irresponsibly, and we will plunge the country [into problems]. We must look at what further automations must be brought into the system,” Glen Mashinini told a post-elections review seminar in Johannesburg.

Mashinini conceded that the IEC’s systems had not kept up with the introduction of smart ID cards in 2013.

Previously, the IEC’s verification process included pasting a slip in the green ID book and marking a voter’s finger with indelible ink to prevent double voting.

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Mashinini added that when the “zip-zip” handheld scanners were introduced in 1998, the machines didn’t have to be interconnected because the printed slip from these machines could be pasted in the green ID book to prove that a voter has voted.

However, on voting day on May 8, there were allegations of multiple voting after a number of voters claimed it was easy to wash off the indelible ink.

“We need to have an integrated system, as opposed to what we have at the moment,” Mashinini said.

He used the example of integrated ATMs, which would not allow a client to empty a bank account at one ATM, and then repeat the process at another.

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IEC deputy chief executive officer Masego Sheburi said there’s sufficient reception at 95% of voting stations to introduce such integrated systems.

In the remaining 5%, he said, the IEC would take the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the poll. 

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