Letter: Electoral Bill Victory Shows Value Of Civil Society Collaboration - The Herald

10 December 2020 - The Institute of Race Relations welcomes the removal of two dangerous clauses from the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill by parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs.

The Institute of Race Relations welcomes the removal of two dangerous clauses from the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill by parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs.

The now retracted clauses would have allowed the Electoral Commission IEC to replace the current manual voting system with an electronic one far more vulnerable to manipulation and fraud. This comes after the IRR was successful in mobilising significant political and civic opposition to the Bill. As the IRR wrote in its submission on the proposed amendments, traditional manual voting systems are not entirely immune from irregularities.

However, international experience confirms that the safeguards they provide are far stronger than those available under electronic systems. The retracted clauses proposed to give the IEC the power to introduce an electronic voting system by the simple expedient of stipulating "a different voting method" for future elections at all three tiers of government.

The commission which is vulnerable to cadre deployment and political manipulation would have been able to do this by regulation and without reference to parliament. The IEC's decision would also have overridden all legislation to the contrary. The Bill would have gone largely unremarked had the IRR not flagged its dangers and coordinated a rapid public response.

With the help of many other organisations, this saw more than 12,000 written objections submitted to the committee within 10 days. This upsurge in public pressure has now resulted in the removal of the two dangerous clauses.

Hermann Pretorius, head of strategic initiatives for the IRR, says: The truth of the well-known saying, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance' has again been shown. "There is no doubt that the IRR and the many others who rallied to the cause have helped to safeguard our democracy by bringing about the retraction of these damaging clauses....

This is an important victory for the entire country."

Institute of Race Relations

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