Vexing voter problems

PROBLEMS that emerged with the voters’ roll over two special voter registration periods – one last month and again last weekend – are troubling in that they reveal either incompetence or some darker motive by people within the ranks of the IEC.

A number of Port Alfred’s Ward 10 residents called TotT to complain that they had been previously registered but when they checked last weekend, IEC officials could not find their names, or they were listed with the wrong address, which would make them ineligible to vote in the local government elections in August.

The problems had nothing to do with a change in ward boundaries, which only affected residents in the northern portion of the East Bank, above the R72. All of those residents were duly informed and knew they had to re-register in Station Hill.

Rather, one of those affected by voters’ roll botches was an elderly lady on the West Bank who has voted here before and who checked to see if she was registered, and found out she wasn’t.

In another example, a couple who moved to town about 18 months ago and re-registered here at the time, found out they were not listed on the local roll, but still as being in Rivonia. Such errors are especially problematic for the elderly or others who need assistance to register.

The local DA has taken note of the issues and followed up with the IEC to rectify what they were able to. Local IEC officials blamed their national office for the errors and omissions, so the DA has escalated the matter to its national representatives.

In Grahamstown, a different and more obviously devious issue emerged with voter registration last weekend. DA constituency leader MP Andrew Whitfield claimed that ANC supporters were bussed from across Grahamstown to register to vote at Rhodes University in Ward 12, a DA Ward.

Whitfield said between the 2009 and 2014 elections, the DA had doubled its support in Makana Municipality, and the ANC seemed to be resorting to underhanded tactics to combat this.

“It is suspected that voters were briefed on what address details to provide to the IEC. One female voter provided the details of an all-male residence at the university which cannot possibly be correct,” Whitfield said.

The DA has laid a formal complaint with the IEC and witnesses have made affidavits at the Grahamstown police station.

With the current problems with the v ot e r s ’ roll, including incorrect addresses, it is imperative that the IEC is on its guard against certain parties trying to manipulate the registration process.

– Jon Houzet

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