DA wants SA voting rights abroad

The DA has approached the Western Cape High Court to allow South Africans living overseas to register for both national and provincial elections.

The party and nine other applicants filed papers in the high court yesterday, said DA federal executive chairman James Selfe.

The Constitutional Court found in 2009 that the Electoral Act and its regulations were unconstitutional and invalid as it prevented citizens living overseas from voting in national elections.

The home affairs department had since tabled the Electoral Amendment Bill as a remedy and it was currently before the home affairs portfolio committee.

The DA believed the bill might still be unconstitutional because it excluded the right to a provincial vote.

“As it stands, the Independent Electoral Commission’s bill will only allow for overseas voters to vote for the national list and not the regional list,” Selfe said.

“By doing this, the bill would also effectively rule out having a constituency-based system. It will also not provide for overseas voters to vote for the provincial legislature.”

The party wanted citizens to be able to register abroad and have voting stations made available in locations where a substantial number of South Africans lived, but where there were no embassies or consulates.

Selfe said he had already sought these rights through a private member’s bill submitted earlier this year, but it was rejected by Parliament.

The Electoral Act already allowed public servants living abroad or outside their province to register as voters and to vote in provincial elections.

“This right should be extended to all South Africans, otherwise it effectively creates a situation of some being more equal than others,” Selfe said.

The additional vote option would not create logistical or administrative problems.

“All that will be required is for the Independent Electoral Commission to provide overseas voters with two ballot papers instead of one. In terms of counting those votes towards the provincial list, they can follow the same procedure as is already done for government officials abroad.”

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