THE Electoral Authority of SA’s (IEC’s) voter address verification debacle has shone a spotlight on the country’s urban-rural divide.
This is apparent in papers filed to the Constitutional Court by IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya.
The electoral authority is due to certify the voters roll this week, after Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen proclaimed the local government elections.
However, it remains unclear how the IEC will do this because the highest court in the country is yet to announce a way forward in the case before it on voter verification.
Capturing an urban address is a simple process, requiring four items: a street number; a street name; a suburb; and a town.
But this became trickier when dealing with rural or township addresses as these “cannot be determined with the same level of certainty, especially in the absence of any uniform standard for such addresses”, according to the papers filed by Moepya.
During the March and April 2016 voter registration drives, about 6.6-million people registered or re-registered.
In total, more than 26-million people are on the voters roll, including those who registered in 2016.
A total 3.4-million people on the roll do not have addresses. Another 4.7-million have incomplete address details, while 11.8-million have complete addresses.
Initially, the IEC had said it would take up to 2019 or so to verify voter addresses on the roll. However, in the affidavit, Moepya explained how the electoral authority had adopted new technology that could potentially speed up the process.
“The IEC improved … (its) data-capturing process by introducing intelligent character recognition (ICR) technology. This technology automatically converts the information on a scanned REC 1 form into text.
“It is … no longer necessary for electoral staff to manually capture the REC 1 form data on to the IEC’s system,” said Moeya.
“The address data extracted through the scanning and ICR processes still require checking when … transferred on to the voters roll, but the new technology has sped up the address-capturing process considerably.
“This technology will enable the IEC to capture and record addresses on the voters roll in time for the elections immediately following the final pre-election voter registration drive,” he added.
The IEC had also introduced an REC AS form to capture and record sufficient address particulars for people without formal addresses.
On May 9 2016, the Constitutional Court reserved judgment. The initial case was brought against the IEC by six independent candidates from Tlokwe, North West, after they complained that the electoral authority had failed to provide them with a complete voters roll.
The independent councillors had wanted to use the information on the roll to campaign in 2013, during by-elections in several wards at the municipality.
In 2015, the Constitutional Court invalidated the 2013 Tlokwe by-elections results and ordered the IEC to re-run the poll, as well as verify voter address information on the roll.