Voting process IEC indelible ink

Photo: Screenshot from video.

Voting in the time of COVID: Bring your own pen, new indelible ink protocol

Traditional indelible ink markers will be replaced by disposable cotton buds at the 2021 Local Government Elections, said the IEC.

Voting process IEC indelible ink

Photo: Screenshot from video.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) intends to do its utmost to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep the public safe when the masses hit the polls on 1 November.

Members of the public should be accustomed to masking up and maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres after more than a year of practising these non-pharmaceutical preventative measures. However, the IEC intends to introduce additional safety measures, which have never been seen at voting stations before.


The IEC’s new voting process requires voters to wear a mask – in line with lockdown regulations. Failure to comply with this rule will see you forfeit your vote. “If you don’t have a mask or face cover, the election officials will refuse you entry to the voting station and you will not be able to register, or update your address, or vote,” said the IEC.

On 1 November, voters will be required to make five stops at the polling station.

Stop 1:  When entering the voting station, election officials will make sure that voters are masked up; that they have no indelible ink on their thumb and check identification before spraying liquid sanitiser on their hands and allowing them to enter the facility.

Stop 2: The Voter’s Roll Officer will scan the voters’ IDs and mark them on the voter’s roll.

Stop 3: The Inker will ink voters’ left thumb with a disposable cotton earbud. This is one of the significant changes at the 2021 Local Government Elections as the usual indelible ink marker has been replaced.

Stop 4: The Ballot Paper Issuer will check voters’ thumbs to ensure that they have been inked and issue them the right ballot papers to vote.

Stop 5: Voters will enter the voting booth, mark the ballots with an X next to their preferred candidate before placing their ballots in the ballot box. The IEC recommends that voters bring their own pen for filling forms and marking ballots. However, election officials will also sanitise all pens after each use. The voting booth controller will ensure that votes remain a secret.