Letter: E-voting in SA rife with risk - Businesslive

3 November 2020 - Electronic voting, which is far more open to manipulation and fraud than the current manual voting method, could become a reality for SA if the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill of 2020 — now being pushed through the public consultation process so quickly and quietly that few have any inkling of it — becomes law.

Electronic voting, which is far more open to manipulation and fraud than the current manual voting method, could become a reality for SA if the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill of 2020 — now being pushed through the public consultation process so quickly and quietly that few have any inkling of it — becomes law.

With its fear of electoral defeat mounting, the ANC is trying to conceal the mooted change among the many technical adjustments in the bill. This was tabled in parliament on September 23, while a brief call for comment was published on October 11 with a deadline of October 30, just three weeks later. Our objections have resulted in a last-minute extension of the deadline to November 6.

Key provisions in the bill empower the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to introduce “a different voting method” for elections at all three tiers of government. This can be done by regulation and without reference to parliament, and will override all other legislation. The crucial wording is: “Despite anything to the contrary contained in this act or in any other law, the commission may prescribe a different voting method”.

This would empower the IEC to introduce an electronic voting system — which it has been actively investigating for some time. 

Traditional manual voting systems are not immune from irregularities, but the safeguards they provide are far stronger than those available under electronic systems. Manual voting systems are far more transparent because they provide a paper trail and can be observed at every stage. Electronic systems, it has been pointed out, are transparent only to a small number of technicians, whose access to the process is controlled by the state.

The IEC has a constitutional obligation to ensure all elections are free and fair, but cannot fulfil this obligation under an electronic voting system in which opportunities for rigging elections are legion and widely known.

If adopted in its current form, the bill is likely to be used by the IEC — which is clearly vulnerable to cadre deployment and political influence — to introduce electronic voting by the 2024 general election (if not the local government poll in 2021). South Africans should be under no illusions about the risks.

Dr Anthea Jeffery
Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2020-11-03-letter-e-voting-in-sa-rife-with-risk/

© 2020 South African Institute of Race Relations
CMS Website by Juizi

Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Accuracy Guarantee | Sponsors & Donors