SA expats can register abroad to vote

8 January 2014

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) have announced their collaboration to register South Africans living outside of the country as voters for the first time.

This follows the presidential assent to the Electoral Amendment Act No 18 of 2013 and the publication of amendments to the Regulations on the Registration of Voters late last year.

In the past, citizens could only vote if they had registered in South Africa.

“The 2014 general election is a watershed for South Africa as it marks the 20th anniversary of our democracy. The IEC takes great pride in enabling all South Africans to exercise their democratic right to vote,” said Mosotho Moepya, the IEC’s chief electoral officer.

How and where to register

In terms of the amended regulations, South Africans living outside of the country who wish to vote in next year’s national election are required to register in person either in South Africa or at one of South Africa’s 124 embassies, high commissions or consulates-general located in 108 countries.

These South Africans need to be in possession of a valid South African identity document (either a green bar-coded South African ID book, a new smart-card ID or a valid temporary identity certificate) and a valid South African passport to register.

South African citizens living outside of the country and who are already registered as voters in South Africa do not need to register again.

Applications for registration are open with immediate effect and take place during normal office hours of the various missions until 7 February.

“South Africans living abroad are urged to confirm the working hours of their nearest foreign mission before attempting to apply for registration to avoid disappointment,” a statement from the IEC said.

Registration weekends

Provision has also been made for two special registration weekends to accommodate South Africans living abroad who are unable to register at their nearest South African foreign mission during normal working hours. The registration weekends will be held on 18 and 19 January, and on 25 and 26 January.

Special votes

Chapter 3 of the election regulations, dealing with special votes, has also been revised to accommodate voting by South African citizens abroad.

It requires registered voters who will not be in South Africa on election day to notify the chief electoral officer of the IEC of their intention to apply to cast their ballot at a South African diplomatic mission.

Notifications of intention to apply for a special vote are made online via the IEC’s website using a VEC10 form, which will only be available once President Jacob Zuma has proclaimed the election date. Online applications must be made with 15 days of the proclamation.

South Africans living abroad are still not eligible to vote in provincial elections.