Some 160,000 prisoners in South Africa will have an opportunity to register to vote in the forthcoming national and provincial elections slated for April or May 2019, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has said.
While the last voter registration weekend will be on 26-27 January, inmates will get an opportunity to register on 22-23 January, the IEC said on Thursday.
The IEC, which will conduct the process, appealed to family members in possession of the offenders’ identity documents (IDs) to make arrangements to deliver them to the relevant correctional facilities on Monday (21 January) the latest.
“Most offenders do not keep their ID documents with them and they are often kept at home by family members,” Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said.
The production of an official ID – either a smart card ID, a barcoded ID book or a temporary ID certificate – was necessary to register as a voter in the country.
In the past, lack of IDs had inhibited voter registration among inmates, Mamabolo said.
According to the Ministry of Correctional Services, there are nearly 160,000 offenders, including remand detainees, in South Africa’s 240 prisons. Preparations were in place to keep the IDs safe for the offenders until the voter registration, the office said.
Since 1999, the electoral commission has worked closely with the ministry to provide voter registration and voting opportunities for inmates.