How do you vote in National and Provincial Elections?

In this podcast we explain how you vote in National and Provincial Elections. This podcast is part of our Civics Academy Election Series, which explores different aspects of elections, and why they are a central feature of democracy.

Voting is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen. When you vote, you are having your say in how the country is run. In all South Africa’s elections, you can vote for a political party or for an independent candidate who is not a member of any party.

So, let’s look at how you vote in National and Provincial Elections in more detail: Firstly, make sure that you are registered as a voter or, if you have already registered, check that your registration details are correct. You can do this online by visiting the website of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, also called the IEC:

You can also register in person at any IEC office, or on one of the voter registration weekends that are held before every election. Once the election date is announced it is no longer possible to register – so do it as soon as possible!

Secondly, before election day comes around, be certain you know where your voting station is located, and that you have either a green, bar-coded identity document or a smartcard ID. You must vote at the station where you are registered to vote. If you know that you will be away from your voting station on election day, you must apply in advance to the IEC between 15th of March and 17th May 2024. The IEC website will tell you where your voting station is, and if you don’t have the correct identity document, you can apply for a temporary ID certificate at the Department of Home Affairs.

Thirdly, on election day, make sure you take your ID with you to the voting station where you are registered to vote. Your name will be checked against the voters’ roll, your thumb will be marked with indelible ink, and you will be given three ballot papers:

A Regional Ballot Paper, with the names of both political parties and independent candidates who are standing for election to the national Parliament from the province in which you are voting. 200 parliamentary seats will be allocated to people or parties who earn votes on the regional ballot papers. This ensures that each region of the country will have some representation in Parliament. Each province will have its own Regional Ballot.

A National Ballot Paper, which will have only the names of political parties that are contesting across the whole country. The other 200 seats in the national Parliament will be allocated to parties that earn votes on the national ballot paper. This ensures that there is overall proportionality among the parties – the number of seats they get reflects the number of votes they obtain across the whole country. This ballot will be the same in all provinces.

A Provincial Ballot Paper, which will include both parties and independents who are standing for election to the legislature of your province. This vote is separate from the other two since it is for your provincial legislature only.

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