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Election watchdog warns against ballot-box ‘selfies’

  • A board marking a voting station which opened early for disabled people to vote in Nyanga township before Wednesdays official elections on the outskirts of the city of Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, May 5, 2014.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s election watchdog has urged voters to refrain from taking ballot paper “selfies” in Wednesday’s election, as the images would “undermine the secrecy of the vote.”

“Voters are reminded that it is an offense to take and/or publish photographs which reveal a person’s vote on a ballot paper,” the Independent Electoral Commission said in a statement Sunday.

The IEC says the offense is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to a year.

The organization said exuberant expatriate voters around the world had already posted pictures of their marked ballot papers on social media.

South Africa goes to polls on May 7 in the fifth democratic elections since the fall of apartheid in 1994.

While the IEC said it was committed to monitoring the regulation, it admitted that it would be difficult to remove cameras or mobile phones from every voter before entering the voting booth.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 06, 2014, on page 10.
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