DA Abroad calls on the IEC to ensure overseas voting days is on non-working days

Issued by Ludre Stevens – DA Abroad Chairperson
26 Mar 2024 in News

The DA Abroad calls on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure that voting days overseas is on non-working days as has been the case in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

This follows contradicting information from several diplomatic missions regarding voting days overseas opening times for applicable embassies and high commissions. The DA Abroad has seen several official reports on websites linked to SA diplomatic missions outside of the Middle East stating that voting day will take place on Friday 17 May 2024. This unfairly puts many voters in an unfair position to take time off work and lose money in order to vote.

Precedent from previous elections overseas dictates that voting days are on a non-working day. In 2014 and 2019 elections fell on a Saturday so that voters would not need to take time off from work to vote. We note for this election there are now two days declared for overseas voting to cater to those countries where Saturday is a working day, but Fridays are not, for example, in Middle Eastern countries.

However, some missions have indicated opening hours outside of the required 7am – 7pm – including earlier starting and earlier closing hours. Therefore, the DA Abroad would like to request the IEC to remind the overseas voting stations of the following:

1. That all diplomatic missions functioning as voting stations will be open on the non-working day of the week – this is Saturday 18 May 2024, or Friday17 May 2024 only if located in countries where the 18th is a working day.

2. That these will be open from 7 am to 7 pm as is required.

3. That queues may be closed, but every person in the queue by 7 pm will be allowed to cast their vote.

4. Official confirmation that the passport requirement has been removed and that South African’s overseas may only need one form of ID to vote.

It is imperative that the IEC remains consistent on the structure of overseas voting in terms of days, times, and democratic principles – in the same way that these are applied in South Africa.

South Africans citizens abroad should not be required to take a day off work to vote and should also be provided with the clarity needed to make the necessary travel plans to reach diplomatic missions far away from their current cities.