South Africa has a remarkable distinction that many other places cannot claim: since the first democratic election in 1994, there have been no rigged major elections. Some minor municipal elections have on occasion raised flags, but there is no reason to believe the country’s elections are not free, fair and transparent.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) does a sterling job and sets high standards with its speed and transparency. It uses technology in creative ways. But you’d be surprised to learn it relies on many human activities as well, using paper and pens. Old school? Yup, but there are good reasons for this.
How we vote today
It may seem strange that at the part where we all participate, the election process is still very manual and paper-based. In an age of computers and smartphones, this all seems outdated. But while electronic voting or e-voting is becoming more common across the world, there are benefits to paper ballots.
For one, it’s much more satisfying to make your mark on something physical. But it also helps keep the elections safe from cybercriminals. IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini recently told the media that physically handled and counted ballots can’t be hacked. All management of ballots is done in front of representatives of the different parties. But there are parts of the voting process that are already electronic, such as the barcode on your ID being scanned.