FUL Supports Opening of Candidate Registration for Local Elections

Constitutional CourtElectoral CommissionLocal Government Elections

The Constitutional Court has recently been petitioned to make orders relating to the upcoming municipal elections. The latest application by the Democratic Alliance asks the Constitutional Court to set aside the Electoral Commission’s decision to reopen candidate registration.

Freedom Under Law maintains in its submissions as amicus curiae (friend of the court) that the Court is being used as a political boxing ring with each party deriding the others as well as the Electoral Commission and attempting to us the Court for its own political ends. This is to be deplored. The Court, as the ultimate guardian of the Constitution, is to be treated with the respect and deference that it deserves rather than as an arena for bald political contestation.

FUL also maintains that the Electoral Commission’s decision to reopen candidate registration is lawful and rational. Ordinarily in electoral administration, where candidacy is dependent upon inclusion in the voters’ roll, registration of candidates logically follows after the voters’ roll has been updated, challenged and verified, i.e.“closed” in electoral jargon.

This is essentially commonsense. The voters’ roll is the authoritative record of all the enfranchised voters in a particular voting district, and is therefore the authoritative source of reference in determining whether a particular candidate is resident in that voting district. If the voters’ roll is amended, the names of candidates may have been deleted and those of potential candidates may have been added. Names of individuals may also have been moved from one voting district to another, thus— where a residential qualification is required, as in our local government elections—allowing or disallowing those individuals to stand as candidates in particular voting districts. Registrability of candidates is determined against the latest closed voters’ roll. This means that if you change the roll, you have to reopen candidate registration.