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Is it time to scrutinse the IEC and our voting system more closely?

10 May 2019 12:24 PM
Journalist and author Mandy Wiener looks at the pros and cons of going digital for future elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has been in the firing line during this election due to the indelible ink saga and instances of alleged double voting.

Read: IEC seeks answers from 'removable' indelible ink company

Mandy Wiener, journalist and author of Ministry of Crime, says South Africans tend to hold the body in high esteem because of its solid track record over the past 25 years.

She believes we should view the 2019 voting glitches in perspective.

Overall, the elections went off very well. They were free and fair and overall it was a well-run election.

Mandy Wiener, Journalist and author of Ministry of Crime

But, at the same time, should we be scrutinising the work of the IEC more closely?

And, are radical changes like introducing biometrics and electronic voting necessary, and even more importantly, feasible in a country like South Africa?

There are massive challenges - there's the issue of poverty, of poor data coverage, of poor literacy. That is very challenging.

Mandy Wiener, Journalist and author of Ministry of Crime

She says the trend internationally, is to introduce biometrics specifically in developing or post-conflict countries.

In the case of South Africa, biometrics is already used in our ID card system, but according to the IEC introducing it into the voting system is not advisable or cost-effective.

Wiener says we should remember that the ink system is not actually archaic and is still used around the world.

She also points out that research shows the introduction of digital technology brings with it a host of new problems, although at the same time, it might give the IEC more credibility in the eyes of voters.

Problems like hacking and manipulation of the system, which is why it hasn't been introduced in a lot of areas.

Mandy Wiener, Journalist and author of Ministry of Crime

If you introduce biometrics for example, that may also give credibility to the IEC, that it is a modern organisation and that it is up to date.

Mandy Wiener, Journalist and author of Ministry of Crime

To hear the full discussion, listen below:


10 May 2019 12:24 PM