Ex-pats kick off online campaign to make it easier to vote from abroad

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DA Abroad, an organised group of South African Democratic Alliance party supporters living abroad, has launched an online petition on change.org for more convenient access to voting stations for South Africans living abroad who wish to vote in the upcoming elections.

Voting for locals living abroad has been made easier with the signing of the Electoral Amendment bill in 2013, which now allows South Africans living in other parts of the world to register to vote abroad. But according to the DA Abroad, the biggest challenge now is access to South African Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates, which is where South Africans have to go to register and to vote.

“These legislative changes have been welcomed, but there are still many for whom the distance to travel to a South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate is simply not possible due to the cost and distance,” says the DA Abroad

The DA Abroad is calling on the Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to extend the franchise to more South African voters living abroad. It’s also calling on Advocate Pansy Tlakula, the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa, to engage with DIRCO to identify ways to extend the franchise to more international South African voters.

“We love our beautiful country, South Africa, and we want to take part in its hard-earned democracy by voting in the 2014 national elections. We are calling on you to provide reasonable access to voting stations where there are large diaspora of South Africans living. We know our vote counts and we want to contribute to our country’s future by making a mark for the candidate of our choice. Please make this happen,” reads the petition.

So far the petition has garnered 2 189 signatures of its 47 811 signatures target.

We contacted the office of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to get a response from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Mr Clayson Monyela, the Department’s spokesperson said “The Department of International Relations and Cooperation does not deal with such requests, all requests relating to the elections should be directed at the Independent Electoral Commission, they are the ones who run the elections.”

So that basically counts the Department of International Relations and Cooperation out. Unfortunately, we could not reach the office of Advocate Tlakula to get any comment on the matter.

Image: DA Abroad Facebook page