Electoral Laws Amendment Bill: voting
HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 September 2003
ELECTORAL LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: VOTING
Chairperson: Mr H Chauke (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B54-2003]
Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B54B-2003] as passed by the Committee
Amendments agreed to by Committee (see Appendix)
The Committee approved the Bill, reporting it with amendments. The Democratic Alliance reserved its position on the Bill. It believed that the Committee had agreed to a broad interpretation of 'business activities' so that temporary workers abroad would be able to vote.
The Committee agreed to ask the Regional Director in KwaZulu-Natal to submit a report on problems with the ID campaign experienced in Nongoma.
The Chair asked the State Law Adviser to take the Committee through the proposed amendments.
Adv Kelner (State Law Adviser) explained that Clause 3 had been altered so that it amended Subsection (2) as well as (1) of Section 7 of the Electoral Act. The new (2) deems persons absent from South Africa on Government service or membership of the household of the person so absent (persons referred to under 33(1)(b) amended by Clause 9 of the Bill) to be ordinarily resident at their head office in South Africa. A number of technical amendments were made to Clause 7. 24B in Clause 7 is substantially amended to make clear that only persons in prison serving sentences without the option of a fine are restricted from voting.
Mr R Pillay (NNP) asked if people detained in police stations would be able to vote.
The Chair responded that, as the IEC had explained, with over 800 police stations, to allow people detained in police stations to vote would be extremely difficult logistically. The focus thus was on prisoners and persons detained in police stations were not included.
Mr Pillay asked if this meant that persons detained in police stations would not vote.
The Chair responded that they would not, as had been discussed by the Committee.
Adv Kelner explained that Clause 9 is amended to allow special votes for those overseas studying at tertiary institutions, performing business activities flowing from their South African employment, or pursuing business activities.
The Chair asked if this meant travellers were not catered for.
Adv Kelner replied that it depended on the reason for travel.
The Chair responded that he had in mind holidaymakers or people visiting family abroad.
Adv Kelner responded that 33(1)(d)(iii) in the amended Clause 9 is very wide. He could not say how the IEC would interpret it. For example, a person visiting Athens at the time of the Olympics might claim to be pursuing business activities whilst there and might be covered.
Adv Van der Merwe (IEC Commissioner) responded that holidaymakers were not covered by the provision domestically or otherwise.
The Chair responded that holidaymakers in South Africa would be allowed to vote.
Adv Van der Merwe agreed, but noted that the Clause under discussion dealt with special votes. Holidaymakers were not entitled to special votes.
Mr I Pretorius (DA) stated that when the Committee had discussed 33(1)(d)(iii) at the previous meeting, he had understood that it was to be broadly defined to cover people temporarily resident and working overseas.
The Chair responded that 33(1)(d)(iii) is broad. The IEC interpretation was that it applied only to people pursuing business activities and the group Mr Pretorius referred to would not be catered for.
Adv Klener explained that a new Clause is inserted to follow on Clause 10 - this amends Section 38(5) inserting (b) requiring that the voter's identity document be marked in the prescribed manner. Clause 11 is amended so that 39(2)(a)'s reference to visual impairment reads 'blindness or other visual impairment'. A number of technical amendments are made to Clause 24 to correct errors of transcription and drafting. A new Section is inserted into the Schedule in Clause 24. The Section is numbered 10 in the document and the State Law Adviser advised that the Committee change the numbering to 9A so that it did not have to amend the numbering of the rest of the Schedule. This was done.
Mr Pretorius stated that the DA would like to reserve its position because it still had to have certain discussions on the Bill in the party caucus.
The Chair responded that the understanding at the previous meeting was that members would table the Bill in party caucus so that voting would go smoothly. He wanted to take everyone on board.
Mr Pretorius responded that the DA had not finalised its discussion and he could not act on his own until there had been a thorough discussion. Certain issues were creating problems, such as the interpretation of 33(1)(d)(iii) in Clause 9 and Clauses 30 and 7. He was pleased that there would be special votes for certain people but was concerned about the limitation of this if a narrow interpretation of business activities was applied - people temporarily working overseas would then not be able to vote.
Mr W Sikakane (ANC) stated that the Committee should accept that the DA had reservations and continue. In the end the DA would call for a division in the House anyway.
The Chair stated that he was surprised by the DA move but the Committee should continue. The motion of desirability was adopted. The Committee accepted each Clause of the Bill separately and the amended Bill in its entirety on voice votes. [The Clause inserted after Clause 10, referred to as 'new Clause 11', and the amended Clause 11 were put to the Committee separately and each accepted.]
The Chair thanked members and officials for the work put in to passing the Bill urgently. The Bill would be debated in the House on 26 September.
Mr Pretorius also stated his thanks, especially to the Chair for granting him ample opportunity to put his case.
Problems with ID campaign in KwaZulu-Natal
Mr Pillay stated that he had received reports, which he had verified, that there was only one person in KwaZulu-Natal deciding matters related to mobile voting stations, which struck him as wrong. He had also received a report that an MEC had gone to the Nongoma Home Affairs office and demanded that the identity documents it had be handed over. The officials had refused and the office was closed for two days. A meeting was to be held on this and members of the Committee should attend it.
Ms I Mars (IFP) stated that the Nongoma incident had been reported to her too. She had checked with the Regional Director, who had told her that the problem had been resolved. Members should check with the Regional Director on the issue.
The Chair stated that he would write to the Regional Director and ask for a report on the incident, to be tabled on Tuesday. He had received several reports on the situation of the ID campaign in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mr Pillay agreed that the problem in the Nongoma office had been resolved. The problem was that it could be happening in other offices where officials might not have reacted appropriately.
Electoral Laws Amendment Bill
Dr C Mulder (FF) joined the meeting - he apologised for being late, explaining that the order paper stated that the meeting would begin at 9am.
The Chair responded that the Committee had agreed to meet at 8am. The secretariat had tried to change the order paper and he had been surprised when it appeared with the meeting time stated as 9am.
The Clerk stated that notices had been sent to members and attempts made to correct the order paper. With the short notice, it was likely only the order paper printed that day would reflect the correct time and that members might not have received the notices in time.
Dr Mulder responded that notices often arrived four days after a meeting in the Marks building.
The Chair explained that the Committee had adopted the Bill as amended and would be writing to the Regional Director of Home Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal for a report on the ID campaign situation.
Dr Mulder asked if all parties had supported the Bill.
The Chair replied that the DA had reserved its position and abstained since they were waiting for their caucus to finalise discussions.
The meeting was adjourned.
AMENDMENTS AGREED TO
ELECTORAL LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
CLAUSE 3 NEW CLAUSE
I.That the following be a new Clause:
Amendment of section 7 of Act 73 of 1998, as amended by section 93 of Act 27 of 2000
3. Section 7 of the Electoral Act, 1998, is hereby amended by the substitution for subsections (1) and (2) of the following subsections:
"(1) A person applying for registration as a voter must do so [(a)] in the prescribed manner
[; and (b) only for the voting district in which that person is ordinarily resident.
(2) [For the purposes of this section the] The head office in the Republic of a person referred to in section [33(1)(a)(ii)]
33(1)(b) is regarded as the ordinary place of residence of that
person or a member of that person's household.".
1. On page 3, in line 46, to omit "Omissions from voters' roll" and to substitute:
Voting in voting district where not registered
2. On page 3, in line 49, to omit "for that voting district within a period of two years
3. On page 4, from line 7, to omit subparagraph (iv).
4. On page 4, from line 9, to omit "in that voting district within a period of two years
5. On page 4, from line 12, to omit subparagraph (vi).
6. On page 4, in line 15, after "district" to insert:
for the purposes of the election for the National Assembly and also for the purposes of the election for the provincial legislature if he or she had so applied for registration in the province in which that voting district is situated
7. On page 4, from line 19, to omit "in that voting district within a period of two years".
8. On page 4, in line 21, to omit "referred to in paragraph (b)(v)".
9. On page 4, in line 26, to omit "(l)(b)(vii)" and to substitute "(l)(b)(v)".
10. On page 4, from line 28, to omit 'referred to in subsection (1)(b)(iv)" and to substitute:
requested for the purposes of the election for the National Assembly and also for the purposes of the election for the provincial legislature if that person had applied for registration in the province where that voting station is situated
11. On page 4, from line 30, to omit the proposed new section 24B and to substitute:
24B. (1) In an election for the National Assembly or a provincial legislature, a person who on election day is in prison and not serving a sentence of imprisonment without the option of a fine and whose name appears on the voters' roll for another voting district, is deemed for that election day to have been registered by his or her name having been entered on the voters' roll for the voting district in which he or she is in prison.
(2) A person who is in prison on election day may only vote if he or she is not serving a sentence of imprisonment without the option of a fine.
1. On page 4, in line 49, to omit "or".
2. On page 4, after line 51, to insert:
(e) temporary absence from the Republic, where he or she ordinarily resides, for one of the following purposes, but in this case, only in an election for the National Assembly:
(i) Study at a tertiary educational institution:
(ii) to perform activities flowing from his or her employment in the Republic:
(iii) to pursue business activities."
I. That the following be a new Clause:
Amendment of section 38 of Act 73 of 1998
11. Section 38(5) of the Electoral Act, 1998, is hereby amended by the insertion after paragraph (a) of the following paragraph:
'(b) mark the voter's identity document in the prescribed manner:
I. On page 5, in line 52, after "including" to insert "blindness or other".
I. On page 9, in line 6, after "must" to insert "together".
2. On page 9, in line 28, to omit "of seats".
3. On page 10, in line 7, after the first "seats" to insert "so awarded".
4. On page 11, in line 39, to omit "charges" and to substitute "changes".
5. On page 11, in line 41, after "both" to insert "a".
6. On page 11, in line 45, after "and" to insert "(b)".
7 On page 11, in line 48, to omit "(b)" and to substitute "(2)".
8. On page 12, after line 5, to insert:
9A. 1) If a art gained no allocation of seats in terms of items
6(b) and (c), but the party gained a provisional scat in respect of the seats referred to in item 2(a). or if a party gained less seats in terms of items 6(b) and (c) than the number of provisional seats in respect of item 2(a), then the provisional allocation of seats in terms of item 2(a) becomes the final allocation of seats for such party, and if a recalculation is required in terms of item 7, the adjusted allocation becomes the final allocation.
(2) If a seat is allocated to a party in terms of sub-item (1), then the determination of seats in terms of item 2(b) must be recalculated as follows:
(a) An amended quota of votes per seat must be determined by dividing the total number of votes cast nationally on national ballot papers, minus the votes cast for a party referred to in sub-item (1), by the total number of seats in the National Assembly plus one, minus the seats awarded in terms of sub-item (1), and the result plus one, disregarding fractions, is the quota of votes per seat.
(b) The number of seats to be awarded to a party for the purposes of paragraph (d) must, subject to paragraph (c), be determined by dividing the total number of votes cast nationally in favour of each party, excluding those awarded seats in terms of sub-item (I), by the quota of votes per seat determined in terms of paragraph (a).
(c) Where the result of the recalculation in terms of paragraph (b) yields a surplus not absorbed by the number of seats awarded to a party concerned, such surplus competes with other similar surpluses accruing to any other party or parties participating in the recalculation, and any seat or seats not awarded in terms of paragraph (b) must be awarded to the party or parties concerned in sequence of the highest surplus.
(d) The aggregate of a participating party's awards in terms of paragraphs (b) and (c) must be reduced by the number of seats provisionally allocated to it in terms of item 5(f) and the results indicate that party's provisional allocation of the seats in terms of item 2(b).
(3) If no recalculation of provisional allocations is required in terms of item 7 in respect
of the seats referred to in item 2(b), the provisional allocation of such seats in terms of paragraph (d) becomes the final allocation of such seats to the various parties, and if such a recalculation is required, the provisional allocation of such seats, as adjusted in terms of item 7, becomes the final allocation of such seats to the various parties.
(4) If a party forfeits a seat in terms of item 7(1) which was allocated to it in terms of sub-item (I), then the seats provisionally allocated to other parties in terms of item 2(b) must be recalculated in terms of item 7(2) and (3), taking such forfeiture into account.