Several adjustments have been made to the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill which, if signed off by the president, may change the way that South Africans vote during the 2019 elections.
The National Council of Provinces adopted the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill just last Thursday during a special sitting.
The revisions made to the Bill will allow citizens to cast their votes even if their addresses are not yet on the voter’s poll.
The changes also mean that it will become illegal for public funds to be used in political campaigning. The only funds that may be used for campaigns must have been allocated to the particular party in terms of the Public Fund of Represented Political Parties Act.
Although no parties voted against the Bill, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) refused to support it, and President Cyril Ramaphosa will still have to sign off on the Bill for it to become law.
The Bill was first tabled as a private members bill by COPE party president Mosiuoa Lekota approximately a month ago, and was intended to allow people who do not represent a political party to be elected to provincial legislatures and Parliament.
The current electoral system only allows for National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures political parties contest elections, with individuals not allowed to do so. Every party is allocated a number of seats in the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures, which is calculated according to a formula.
Each party then needs to determine which of its members will fill its seats.
The new Electoral Laws Amendment Bill also notes that while this system has its advantages, there are also disadvantages to using it.
– A lack of accountability of members in the relevant legislatures to its voters
– An alienation of voters from the political system
– No provision has been made for the voting public to vote for individual members.