Election Laws in South Africa - How Fair, How Clear?

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Election Laws in South Africa - How Fair, How Clear?

Post by Muad'Dib » Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:12 am

I was just listening to a discussion about the recent election in South Africa on the radio show "Talking Point" on BBC World Service.

A South African citizen, currently a student in London complained about not being able to vote. While voting can be done while abroad (I would assume by absentee ballot, or some arrangement with the local embassy or consulate), it seems that you have to register in advance in South Africa in order to vote come election time. Only diplomats are allowed to register without having to physically be back in the country.

This student had recently turned 21, and had been in the UK for about 12 months (and hadn't been back to South Africa in all that time). My questions are:

1) Do you know if he could have registered before he was 21 in anticipation of being out of the country when the elections took place?

2) How clear is the government making these rules known to the public? Given the age of the student, and that he never had voted before, it's possible that he wasn't paying attention before he left the country. However, given the election laws are at most 10 years old, I wonder if they haven't made all the options clear to the voting (or potentially voting) citizenry. The way the woman in the government answered this student, it sounded like the typical governmental run-around - and I wonder if the rules are designed specifically to make it hard/near impossible for citizens living outside of the country (for whatever reason) to vote.

Reiner (or other SA people in the forum) - any thoughts?

P.S. I'm from the US, and while I am currently a registered voter, and know I can vote from outside the country (if I plan ahead), I honestly don't know if I would be able to register from outside either. So it's possible that this sort of rule is typical. It's just that on the radio, it sounded to me like they were trying to make things difficult!
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Post by Renier » Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:21 pm

I remember there being stuff in the media about people outside the country not being able to vote, and the opposition parties critizied it, so it definitely was mentioned long before the election. I don't know more details.

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