How to vote

Find your voting station

Ensure that you have the address for the correct voting station for the voting district in which you are registered. Most voting stations are located in community buildings like local schools, churches or community centres. Where buildings are not available, voting stations are set up in tents in parks or other open land. In some sparsely-populated rural areas we use specially adapted vehicles as mobile voting stations. Every voting station has large clear signs outside marking it as a voting station.

Use the Voting Station Finder to find your correct station.

Present your Identity Document

At the entrance of the voting station is an election official who serves as a door controller. He or she will check that you have a valid identification document (green barcoded ID book, smart-card ID or temporary ID certificate), will scan this document, and present you with a slip that confirms that you are a registered voter. The door controller will also tell you when it is your turn to enter the station and will advise where to go once inside the voting station.

Check that you are on the voter’s roll

Once inside the voting station you will proceed to the voters’ roll table where election officials will take your ID document and check for your name and identity number on the segment of the national common voters’ roll for that voting district. Your name will then be crossed off – this is a manual mechanism for ensuring that voters only vote once. An election official will then ink your left thumb nail. This is a special ink that will not wash off your nail for several days. This ink mark will show everyone that you have participated in the election!

Get your ballot papers

An election official will then hand you your ballot papers – which they will tear off a pad. Each ballot paper has a unique number and you must make sure that there is a stamp at the back of your ballot papers to verify that they were issued to you on that Election Day. For national and provincial elections voters generally receive two ballot papers (one for the national and one for the provincial election), whereas for municipal elections voters in metros and local councils receive two ballot papers (one for a ward councillor and one for a political party as part of the PR section of the election. Voters in areas which form part of a district council receive a third ballot paper for the district council election.

Get your Identification Document Stamped

Your green ID book, if that was your identification document, will then be stamped by an election official to show that you participated in the election.

Find an empty voting booth and make your “X”

You will then be directed to an empty voting booth. Here you will place your X in the box next to the political party and/or candidate of your choice. To avoid a spoilt ballot, ensure that you make only one mark on each ballot paper and that your mark is clear. If you make a mistake call an election official and they will provide you with a new ballot paper. When you are finished, fold your ballot papers in half and leave the voting booth. Just a reminder – you are not allowed to photograph your marked ballot paper…so no selfies please!

Cast your vote 

An election official stationed at the ballot box will check that there is a stamp at the back of each of your ballots. Having made your mark, drop your completed ballot paper through the slot in the top of the ballot box.

Ensuring that voting is free and fair

After casting your vote, you will then be directed to the exit. Remember that political party representatives and independent observers (both national and international) are present throughout the voting and counting process to observe the process and to ensure it is free and fair.