30th November 2023 3:28 pm
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The tech powering the Voter Registration Weekend

  • Ahead of the upcoming Voter Registration Weekend, the IEC have said that its systems are prepared.
  • The system utilises Voter Management Devices (VMDs) which can operate on and offline to make sure all voters can register no matter where they are.
  • Around 1.1 million people have already registered via the IEC’s online portal for the 2024 general elections.

Ahead of the 2024 general elections, South Africa and the country’s electoral systems are preparing to embark on the Voter Registration Weekend over two days on 18th and 19th November 2023.

During the weekend, 23 296 voter stations will be open across the country where eligible voters can register for the upcoming elections, which amid increased economic instability, an ongoing energy crisis and increased global change, is shaping up to be an important elections for South Africa.

In an announcement, the Electoral Commission has declared its readiness ahead of the Voter Registration Weekend, and has detailed the technology on which the registration system will operate.

A dry-run of the system was conducted on 28th October to assess functionality of the infrastructure – around 260 tonnes of equipment which has been moved around the country towards the stations.

According to the commission, the main piece of tech that it will use to operate the registration are Voter Management Devices (VMDs). These machines were first introduced in 2021 and have apparently undergone “significant improvements” since then. Based on lessons that were learned from previous elections.

“Accordingly, the operating system for these devices has now been enhanced,” the Electoral Commission has said.

Running on these devices will be three separate business applications, including the Staff Attendance Register, Voting Station Monitoring and Voter Registration applications.

Usually, the commission’s VMDs run on the internet via an Accent Point Network, but the three applications that make voter registration possible are all coded to operate offline if necessary, such as in times where the location of the registration station is far from a network source.

VMDs can connect and disconnect and continue operating automatically, so that commission staffers need not get involved and the system can operate smoothly.

As of the end of 2023, the commission’s online registration portal has now amassed a total of 1.1 million registrations – it was only at 220 000 in February.

Nearly 50 percent of registrations on the portal are first-time election registrations. “Once again, women are the majority users of the online portal at 56 percent. Young persons under the age of 29 indicate a strong usage level at 49.6 percent,” the commission detailed.

“The Electoral Commission makes an impassioned call on adult South Africans to seize the moment by registering as voters,” it says.

“Only those who are on the voters’ roll can have a say in the electoral outcomes next year. Even if you have not as yet decided to vote, it is still important to be on the voters’ roll because your choice can only be recorded if you are registered.”

During the events of the Voter Registration Weekend, the commission has encouraged already registered voters to check the correctness of their details at the nearest registration station to them.

On the weekend of the event, the Department of Home Affairs has said it will remain open from 08:00 to 13:00 on Saturday and Sunday in order to give South Africans more time to collect their Smart ID cards and passports.

For more information about the Voter Registration Weekend, you can reach the commission’s contact centre at 0800 118 000.

You can also join the commission’s WhatsApp community by sending ‘hi’ to 0600 88 0000.

[Image – Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash]

Luis Monzon

Luis Monzon

Journalist. Covering education, AAA gaming and consumer tech. Reach me at Luis@htxt.co.za.

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