The Electoral Commission says the order of political parties on the national and provincial ballot papers for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections was decided on to improve the legibility of the ballot paper and to accentuate distinguishing features between and among political parties. The IEC issued a statement to clarify why parties appear in the order they do.
“The Electoral Act empowers the Commission to determine the design of the ballot paper to be used in an election. The preeminent consideration of the Commission in designing the ballot paper is to enable easy identification of the party of choice by the voter, to facilitate the selection of that party with confidence and to minimise risks of miscast ballots,” the IEC said.
Traditionally the Electoral Commission had used a random draw to determine the first party on the ballot paper, with all parties then following in alphabetical order.
In preparation for the upcoming elections, the Electoral Commission appointed the Human Sciences Research Council to conduct research to investigate key aspects of the usability of the ballot paper with a view to introducing enhancements to the design.
The outcome of the research proposed certain areas of enhancement to improve the legibility of the ballot paper and to accentuate distinguishing features between and among political parties on the ballot, the IEC said. These had been incorporated into the ballot paper design for 2019 National and Provincial Elections – including a re-ordering of the sequence of party identifiers on the ballot paper as follows:
- Full party name
- Party leader photograph
- Party logo
The research had also established that there was potential for confusion among voters as a result of some party identifiers that use similar colours, abbreviations and logos. A specific recommendation was that parties that may cause confusion to the voter ought to be separated on the ballot paper.
“These findings and the proposed solution were shared and discussed with all parties in the National Party Liaison Committee,” the IEC said. “The proposed solution was to retain the random draw for the first party on the ballot paper and thereafter follow the alphabetical order of parties as determined by the party at the top of the ballot.”
Additionally another random draw would be conducted to help separate parties which might cause confusion to voters.
“All parties represented at the NPLC endorsed and supported the proposals,” the IEC said.
In line with this, two random draws were conducted during the Code of Conduct signing ceremony held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on 20 March 2019. The first draw was to separate parties which were consecutive in alphabetical order and which have certain similarities in their acronyms and logos namely:
- The African Independent Congress (AIC)
- The African National Congress (ANC)
- The African People’s Convention (APC)
“As agreed with the representatives of the parties, the party drawing the highest number would feature in its usual place on the ballot paper in terms of alphabetical order. The party drawing the smallest number would drop to the end of the sequence of political parties starting with the letter “A” on the ballot paper. The party drawing the second highest number would lose its usual position in the alphabetical order and would be inserted in the middle of the alphabetical sequence of parties starting with the letter “A”,” the IEC said.
“Immediately prior to this draw the process was again discussed and agreed with the three parties concerned who participated in the draw.”
During the draw, the African Independent Congress (AIC) had drawn the highest number and therefore retained its alphabetical position on the ballot paper (between the African Democratic Change and African Renaissance Unity parties).
The African People’s Convention (APC) drew the smallest number which meant it moved to the end of those parties starting with the letter “A” on the ballot paper.
The African National Congress (ANC) drew the second highest number and therefore lost its position in the alphabetical order and was placed in the middle of the list of parties starting with the letter “A”.
A second draw then followed to select the party to top the ballot paper. This was won by the African Security Congress (ASC).