Mobile voting stations & proxy voting: 5 things Maimane proposes to ensure safe elections amid Covid-19

01 July 2021 - 11:00 By unathi nkanjeni
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has opposed calls to postpone the local government elections. File photo.
One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has opposed calls to postpone the local government elections. File photo.
Image: Twitter/Mmusi Maimane

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has made submissions to the Moseneke inquiry, calling for the October elections to go ahead. 

On Wednesday, the inquiry heard oral submissions on whether it was possible to hold free and fair elections on October 27. 

The hearing comes after the Electoral Commission (IEC) postponed by-elections in wards in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. 

This was due to the increase in the Covid-19 infection rate and after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed SA under an adjusted level 4 lockdown. 

The IEC said the postponement would be for a period not exceeding 120 days.

Making his submissions to the inquiry, Maimane said South Africans should have their say on who leads their municipalities amid the Covid-19 pandemic and slow vaccination rollout.

He argued that Covid-19 would be around for a number of years and postponing elections won't change anything. 

Here are five submissions Maimane made to the inquiry:

Pre-health assessment of all polling officials and Covid-19 protocols kept

Maimane said Covid-19 protocols can be upheld and should be followed. 

“It is not sine qua non to suggest that holding an election on the 27th will mean a super-spreader event. There are a few things that can be done to ensure that we don’t achieve a super-spreader event. 

“There should be a pre-health assessment of all polling officials. We already have a vaccination programme in place that can ensure that they are all pretested,” he said.

Extending voting to three days

He suggested that voting should be done over a three-day period instead of one. 

“Special votes can be cast on the Monday and Tuesday of the election. I urge that must be done so you avoid a scenario where elections are only on the 27th and you have space where more citizens are compelled to only vote on that day."

Increasing voting stations

Maimane said increasing the number of voting stations should also be considered, pointing out that Ghana increased theirs to 38,000 countrywide.

“SA has got a much bigger population, but at this point we have 23,000 voting stations. It is possible to increase those and make some of them mobile so that citizens are not walking long distances to voting stations and are able to get there.” 

Transforming corporate spaces into voting stations 

Corporate buildings should be transformed into voting stations since most employees are working remotely, said Maimane. 

“We have already got enough infrastructure to use additional facilities that are not being used, since people now prefer to work from home. You can use office buildings, office parks and various infrastructure we have got in the country to facilitate voting.”

Consider proxy voting

Maimane said the IEC should consider looking into proxy voting, which has been done in other countries that have held elections during a pandemic. 

“The idea of proxy voting may come into place if the IEC was willing to work in partnership with health officials to allow citizens to express their votes in various ways.”