The Electoral Amendment Bill, which seeks to relax registration requirements for voters ahead of next year’s harmonised elections and amend several provisions of the main Act to bring it to conformity with the Constitution, was gazetted on Friday.
Registration is now easier since potential voters just need to give their address without providing documentary back-up.
When voters were required to produce proof of residence to register to vote, some tenants not paying the primary rates would face challenges in acquiring the proof of residence from landlords who either did not want to be bothered or simply did not want to admit they had a tenant.
The Bill confirms that a driver’s licence cannot be used as identification, voters needing to produce the national ID card or a valid passport to prove identity.
The driver’s licence is issued by the Central Vehicle Registry while the other two documents are official documents from the Registrar General and the civil registry offices.
The new law will also provide the timeframe within which national assembly and local authority candidates can withdraw from contesting in an election and also provide for the incorporation of the 30 percent women’s quota and the youth quota.
It is envisaged that once the Bill is enacted into law, it will assist in ensuring that only citizens are able to vote in an election, that proper candidates are allowed to contest in an election, providing clarity on when and how a candidate can withdraw their candidature in an election so as to afford ZEC sufficient time to make changes to the design of the ballot and advising the electorate of any changes to the candidature in an election.
Section 45C of the Act, which deals with allocation of party-list seats and disqualification of votes for purposes of party-list elections, also brings into effect Constitutional amendments that reserve seats for youth members and the election of candidates to the middle tier of provincial councils.
Each of the 10 electoral provinces will have elected by proportional representative six seats in the Senate, six seats reserved for women in the National Assembly, one seat reserved for a youth aged from 21 to 35 in the National Assembly.
The party lists for senators for each province must alternate, in terms of existing law, between men and women, with a woman in the top position.
Besides the central Parliament, the harmonised election will also generate the distribution of 10 seats in provincial councils for the eight non-metropolitan councils. According to the envisaged law, in every electoral province there shall be elected by indirect proportional representation one youth member, that is, a person aged 21 to 35.
The Bill also lays down the details for using the vote in each ward to elect the councillor representing that ward to generate the 30 percent additional women councillors to be elected by indirect proportional representation as now laid down in the Constitution.
As 30 percent only gives a whole number when the number of councillors is a multiple of 10, the Bill gives the formula for rounding down when a fraction is under half, and rounding up to the nearest whole number when it is half or more.
The problem of candidates withdrawing is being amended. Candidates can withdraw before 21 days before the poll or first day of multiple days of voting. That gives the commission time to modify the design of the ballot paper.
After that a candidate’s name remains on the ballot paper, even if they drive around begging people not to vote for them.
Withdrawals have to be in writing and sent to the Chief Elections Officer. -state media