The 2016 municipal elections are set to take place in August. THATO TINTE finds out from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) what Rolling Inspiration readers need to know
Local elections are held every five years and allow South Africans the opportunity to elect a councillor who will be responsible for their respective local municipality. According to the IEC, councillors serve in their respective towns, cities or metropolitan areas to ensure that services that impact on the daily lives of citizens in those areas are met (including water, electricity and sanitation).
Chief communication officer Kate Bapela told us what support would be provided for people with disabilities.
What measures has the IEC put in place to assist people with disabilities during these elections?
Our aim to continually improve the voting experiences of persons with disabilities is based on three principles: general obligation, universal design and reasonable accommodation.
General obligation refers to effective measures taken to ensure that all citizens with disabilities are able to exercise their right to participate fully and equally in electoral processes without discrimination.
Through universal design, we aim to ensure that the design of environments (voting stations) and programmes are usable by everyone. We have increased our network of voting districts and voting stations since 1994 and ensured that our facilities accommodate the disability sector.
We conduct regular surveys to assess the availability of key facilities (including water, electricity, and sanitation and disability accessibility) and will continue to seek opportunities to improve access for everyone.
Reasonable accommodation is the appropriate modification and identifying of assistive devices that can be used by people with disabilities. We’ve worked with the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) to develop a voting aid called the universal ballot template (UBT). This assists persons with disabilities, people with visual impairments and those with special needs to have an independent and secret vote.
The UBT may also be used by other voters who don’t command fine-motor control of the hand as they write, and by the aged or those who are illiterate.
Do persons with disabilities need to register themselves for special votes?
People with disabilities, those who are physically ill and pregnant voters may apply to vote in either their voting district or at their place of residence. Applications can be done at your local IEC office on the MEC35 form.
To qualify, voters must be registered, have a green, bar-coded Identity Document (ID), smartcard ID, or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate, and meet the conditions for the specific type of election.
Once you’ve applied, you will receive an SMS notification of the outcome. Those who are unable to go to their voting station to register may call their local IEC office to make an appointment for an official to visit them to be registered.
Readers may contact the IEC call centre on 0800 11 8000, through Facebook (IECSouthAfrica) or via Twitter (@IECSouthAfrica).
To check your registration status, go online on www.elections.org.za/; SMS your ID number to 32810 or send your ID number to*120*432# (USSD).