On November 1, South Africans are heading to the polls to vote in the local government elections. According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), all voting station surfaces will be wiped with 70% alcohol disinfectant before and after use. Here’s how you can protect yourself and others while safely casting your vote.
Wear a mask properly
Make sure your mask covers your nose, mouth and chin. Avoid touching your mask and face.
Follow social distancing rules
Keep a distance of 1.5 m from fellow voters, election officials, party agents and observers at all times while at your voting station.
Bring hand sanitiser with at least 70% alcohol.
That’s the level needed to kill most coronaviruses. Even if hand sanitiser will be provided at the voting stations, it’s good to bring your own.
Cover your mouth and nose
Your mouth and nose should be covered with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands regularly.
Wait your turn
Wait your turn before entering the voting station. Only a limited number of people may be gathered inside the venue at the same time.
Bring your own pen
Bring your own pen for filling in forms and marking ballots at the voting station. In any event, election officials will be sanitising all pens at the voting station after each use.
Verify your voter registration information is correct in advance of reporting to the polling location.
Make sure you have all necessary documents to avoid delays at the polling location.
That being your green bar-coded South African ID book, a smartcard ID or a temporary identification certificate.
Speak up if someone is too close, and their behaviour is making you uncomfortable.
After you vote
When you get home or back to work, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds (that’s the amount of time it takes to sing happy birthday twice).
So what happens if you get COVID-19 before or on the election day of elections and you are unable to vote.
Unfortunately, you’ll miss out. By law, you can apply for a special vote. The special vote applies if you: can’t travel to your voting station because you are physically infirm, disabled or pregnant, or can’t vote at your voting station on election day. Unfortunately applications for special votes opened on September 20 and closed on October 4. If approved, this category of voters will cast their ballots at their voting station of registration on October 30 or 31.
Even if missing out on the vote is not good for the democratic process and a person’s right to access their vote, if you are feeling unwell, stay at home. Rather isolate or get tested, instead of risking infecting others.