The List: Five myths about the 2021 local elections

South Africa’s municipal elections will be held on November 1, 2021. People will vote to elect councils for all district, metropolitan and local municipalities in each of the country’s nine provinces. Misinformation, myths and errors often undermine public confidence in the electoral process and democracy. The Daily Vox team has rounded up some of the biggest myths associated with the local government elections. 


2021 Local Elections: Everything you need to know

Myth 1: “If I don’t vote, my vote automatically goes to the winning party”

Fact: Wrong, if you don’t vote, your vote doesn’t count. The Bill of Rights in South Africa’s Constitution grants all citizens aged 18 and older the right to vote. People have the choice about whether they’d like to exercise that vote or not. But under no circumstances will a person’s vote be voted if they haven’t marked the ballot. One person equals one vote so if you don’t vote the vote isn’t counted. 

Myth 2:  “I can still register after the voters’ roll for an election closes”

Fact: You can still make an appointment to register at the local IEC office responsible for your voting district. However, you will not be able to vote in the proclaimed elections. By law, no exceptions can be made. More than 13 million South Africans who are eligible to vote have not registered. They cannot vote because the voters’ roll is now closed.

Myth 3: “I can’t register to vote because I live abroad”

Fact: You can register abroad. The Electoral Amendment Act 2013 gave all South African citizens the right to register and vote abroad in national elections. In order to vote abroad, you must be registered and submit a VEC10 notification within the period specified on the election’s timetable (15 days from the date on which the election is proclaimed). However, if you live abroad, you won’t be able to vote in the local elections. This is because people vote in the area they live in for their local representatives. 

Myth 4: “My vote is not confidential”

Fact: Your vote is your secret. The IEC has a number of measures they take to safeguard the secrecy of a vote. Firstly, every voter must present themself in person in order to vote. This ensures that there is no impersonation of one by another. Secondly, voters vote in a voting station behind a secure voting compartment. Thirdly, photographic equipment is outlawed at voting stations. Ballot papers are not numbered, therefore, no association of a ballot can be made with a voter.

Myth 5: “I am 17 years old now, but will turn 18 around the time when the elections will be held. I can still vote”

Fact: No, you must have turned 18 on or before the day on which the elections are proclaimed to be able to vote. When elections were proclaimed, they were published in the government gazette. No exceptions can be made.