The best way to express how you would like the country to operate is by voting in the national or local government elections. During the national and provincial elections, you’re voting toward national issues – healthcare, education, and the country’s finances. While local government elections help you share your opinion on how you would like your ward and municipality to operate. Therefore, the party you choose and the candidates you select are your choices regarding who you think will best execute your views. For all these reasons, it’s understandable that those who have emigrated or are working abroad when the South African elections take place will want to participate. Considering that South Africa’s legislation allows South Africans to vote while abroad, this is everything you need to know about how to vote abroad.
Who Can Vote While Abroad?
According to the Electoral Act, 73 of 1998, South Africans should be given the opportunity to vote while abroad. However, before you can cast your vote abroad, you need to ascertain that you are eligible to vote.
Many of the eligibility requirements for voting abroad are similar to the criteria for local citizens, with two primary differences: submitting additional forms and providing documentation. That said, to vote abroad, you need to be:
A Registered Voter
Before you can cast your vote abroad, you need to ascertain that you are registered on the IEC database. To check if you are a registered voter, follow this link to verify your voter registration status. Once you’re on the registration status page, you will be required to input your 13-digit ID.
Have a Valid ID
To vote abroad, you will also need one of the following valid identification documents:
A Green, barcoded South African ID, a South African Smart-ID, or a Temporary Identity Certificate.
Be In Possession of a Valid South African Passport
There is one additional document international voters will need to present. To vote, you will need to provide either a valid South African passport or a temporary passport.
Have Submitted a VEC 10 Form
International voters will also need to complete a VEC 10 form. The form notifies the IEC of your intention to vote while abroad.
How To Submit a VEC 10 Online
If you want to vote in the national elections, you’ll need to submit a VEC 10 form online.
The process is fairly straightforward. You can follow the steps outlined below to submit your VEC 10 form online.
Step 1: Access The VEC 10
You can visit the IEC website to access the VEC 10 notification. The VEC 10 notification – which is an online form – is completely secure, meaning your data is not at risk.
The form serves as notification to the IEC that you intend to vote and should be submitted within 15 days of the South African general election being proclaimed.
Step 2: Complete Your Details
After you’ve accessed the VEC 10 notification, you’ll need to input your personal details, including your ID and passport number and details about the consulate where you wish to cast your vote.
Step 3: Submit The Form
Be sure you submit your VEC 10 form before any deadlines to minimise the risk of being unable to vote because your form was incorrectly processed or didn’t have accurate or complete information.
How To Check VEC 10 Notification Status Online
To determine if your VEC 10 form notification has been successfully processed, you can check the status of your application online.
To check the status, click this link. Alternatively, you could wait for the IEC to send you a notification of receipt that will notify you of the outcome of your application. If your application is accepted, the IECs confirmation letter will state where and when you’ll be able to cast your vote.
On the day you cast your vote, be sure you have all your supporting documents and understand how the process operates. Similar to the elections in South Africa, the designated voting officer will place indelible ink on your thumb, scan your documentation, and verify your details before handing you the ballots. You then mark the ballots, place them in their respective envelopes and into the ballot box.
How Does Voting Abroad Work?
The most crucial component about voting abroad is understanding that you cannot participate in municipal (local government) elections or by-elections. Voters who choose to vote while abroad can only participate in the general (national and provincial) elections, which are next scheduled for 2024. During the general elections, international voters will only be able to cast their ballots on the scheduled election days.
Furthermore, those who do want to cast their votes in the general election will follow many of the processes to those participating locally. The only key difference is that you’ll be required to visit a foreign mission as indicated to you by the IEC.
Can I Vote Before I Leave South Africa?
Since you cannot vote abroad during the municipal elections, your only recourse is to vote before leaving South Africa. Unfortunately, those who permanently reside abroad cannot vote in municipal elections.
However, if you will be out of the country on election day but want to vote before you leave, you should submit a MEC 35. The purpose of the form is to notify the IEC that you won’t be able to visit your local voting station on voting day and would like to participate through a special vote. You can submit the form online or at your local IEC offices.
Before submitting a MEC 35, because you’ll be out of the country on voting day, remember that you can only cast a special vote on predetermined days. If you aren’t in the country on those days, you will be unable to cast your vote.
In the 2021 municipal elections, those special election dates include the 30th and 31st of October. You will still need to make your way to your local voting station on one of those days if you won’t be in the country on the 1st of November.