IEC changes ballot paper to prevent people mistakenly voting for the wrong party

27 March 2019 - 06:11 By ERNEST MABUZA
The Electoral Commisison has revealed what ballot papers for the May 8 national and provincial elections will look like.
The Electoral Commisison has revealed what ballot papers for the May 8 national and provincial elections will look like.
Image: 123RF/niyazz

If you are worried that you might confuse colours and logos when putting your mark on the ballot paper on May 8, don’t worry - the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has explained how it has separated parties that look too similar.

On Tuesday, the commission revealed what the ballot paper for the upcoming national and provincial elections will look like and the process it took to design it.

“The preeminent consideration of the commission in designing the ballot paper is to enable easy identification of the party of choice by the voter, to facilitate the selection of that party with confidence and to minimise risks of miscast ballots,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission said that, traditionally, it had used a random draw to determine the first party on the ballot paper, with all parties then following in alphabetical order.

However, for these elections, the commission had appointed the Human Sciences Research Council to conduct research and to investigate key aspects of the usability of the ballot paper. This with a view to introducing enhancements to the design.

The research established, among other things, that there was potential for confusion among voters as a result of some party identifiers that use similar colours, abbreviations and logos.

A specific recommendation was that parties that may cause confusion to the voter ought to be separated on the ballot paper. These parties are the African Independent Congress (AIC), the African National Congress (ANC) and the African People’s Convention (APC).

These findings and the proposed solution were shared and discussed with all parties in the National Party Liaison Committee.

The proposed solution was to retain the random draw for the first party on the ballot paper and thereafter follow the alphabetical order of parties as determined by the party at the top of the ballot.

Additionally another random draw would be conducted to help separate parties which may cause confusion to the voter. 

Two random draws were conducted during the Code of Conduct signing ceremony held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on March 20.

The first draw was to separate parties which were consecutive in alphabetical order and which have certain similarities in their acronyms and logos.

The party drawing the highest number would feature in its usual place on the ballot paper in terms of alphabetical order.

The party drawing the smallest number would drop to the end of the sequence of political parties starting with the letter “A” on the ballot paper.

The party drawing the second-highest number would lose its usual position in the alphabetical order and would be inserted in the middle of the alphabetical sequence of parties starting with the letter “A”.

During the draw, the AIC drew the highest number and therefore retained its alphabetical position on the ballot paper (between the African Democratic Change and African Renaissance Unity parties).

The APC drew the smallest number, which meant it moved to the end of those parties starting with the letter “A” on the ballot paper.

The ANC drew the second-highest number and therefore lost its position in the alphabetical order and was placed in the middle of the list of parties starting with the letter “A”

A second draw then followed to select the party to top the ballot paper. This was won by the African Security Congress (ASC).

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