What you need to know about the elections

What are national and provincial elections?

National and provincial elections – held every five years – are elections to choose representatives to the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures. They are different elections but are held on the same day.

What is the difference between national and provincial government?

National government makes and carries out laws and policies for the whole country.

It is made up of: Parliament led by the Speaker; and national government led by the president and ministers.

Provincial government makes and carries out laws and policies that affect the province only.

It is made up of: Legislature led by the Speaker; and Provincial government led by the premier and Members of the Executive Council (MECs).

What are you voting for in national and provincial elections?

National vote: You are voting for a political party to represent you in the National Assembly.

Provincial vote: You are voting for a political party to represent you in the Provincial Legislature.

What electoral system is used in South Africa for the national and provincial elections?

The Proportional Representation (PR) system is used in South Africa for national and provincial elections. The PR system awards seats to political parties according to the percentage of votes each party receives in an election.

Political parties submit a list of candidates to the IEC for the National Assembly and the Provincial Legislatures. Candidates are listed in their order of preference. On election day, voters vote for the political party of their choice, not individual candidates. After counting, political parties are allocated seats according to the percentage each party received.

Advantages and disadvantages of the PR electoral system

An advantage of the PR electoral system is that it makes sure that smaller political parties are included and represented. This means that the legislatures are made up of people with different interests.

A disadvantage of the PR electoral system is that voters do not directly elect their political representatives to legislatures. Political party leaders decide who will represent voters in the legislatures.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can I vote if I registered but am now in prison?

A: Yes, you can vote in national and provincial elections as long as you have your valid, green, bar-coded ID and you are registered to vote. Check your voter registration status online to confirm that your name appears on the voters’ roll.

Q: Can I vote if I registered but have lost my ID with the sticker in it?

A: Yes, just get a Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC) that will be valid on election day. You can apply for your TIC at the Department of Home Affairs. Please also check your registration details and confirm that your name appears on the voters’ roll (check your voter registration status online).

Q: Can I vote if I turn 18 soon after election day?

A: No, you must have turned 18 on or before the day on which the elections are proclaimed to be able to vote. No exceptions can be made.

Q: Can I vote if I will be in another town or province on election day?

A: You need to vote at the voting station where you’re registered to vote. However, if you’re outside of your voting district on election day you may vote at another voting station in South Africa.

If you’re outside the province where you registered, you’ll only be able to vote in the national election and not the provincial election, and you’ll be asked to complete a VEC 4 form at the voting station.

Q: Can I vote if I’ve lost my registration sticker?

A: You will be allowed to vote as long as your name is on the voters’ roll. If your name isn’t on the voters’ roll and you don’t
have your registration sticker, you have no proof that you’ve registered and you won’t be able to vote. Please check your voter
registration status online to make sure your name is on the voters’ roll.

Q: Can I vote if my new ID book has not arrived yet?

A: Yes, you can vote if you have a Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC) that is valid on election day. You can apply for a TIC at the Department of Home Affairs. Please remember, you will only be able to vote if you are a registered voter.

Q: Can I vote on behalf of someone who is unable to get to their voting station?

A: No, every voter must vote in person at the voting station.

Q: Can I vote with my temporary registration certificate (TRC)?

A: No, you can only vote with your South African, green, bar-coded ID or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC). You can apply for a green, bar-coded ID or a valid TIC from the Department of Home Affairs.

Q: Can permanent residents vote in the elections?

A: No, only South African citizens with a green, bar-coded ID book can vote in elections.

Q: How does the IEC ensure security and non-intimidation at voting stations?

A: There are police and/or army personnel at every voting station to ensure your safety.

Q: I am blind. Can someone help me at the voting station?

A: You can take anyone who is at least 18 years old and not a party agent with you to the voting station to help you cast your vote.

You can also ask the presiding officer at the voting station to help you and/or provide you with a voting aid known as a universal ballot template (UBT).

Q: I have registered, but I don’t want to vote. Will anything happen to me if I don’t vote?

A: No, voting is not compulsory in SA, however, voting is an important civic duty and we encourage all South Africans to participate.

How to vote:

* Find your correct voting station

* Present your valid identification document to the door controller at the entrance of the voting station

* Check that you are on the voters’ roll

* Get your ballot papers

* Get your identification documents stamped

* Find an empty voting booth and make your ‘X’

* Cast your vote

* Special votes will be cast on Monday and Tuesday May 6 and 7, from 9am to 5pm. Voting stations will be open on election day, Wednesday May 8, from 7am to 9pm.

For more information, call 0800 11 8000, the Western Cape provincial IEC office at 021 910 5700 or email info@elections.org.za