Special votes

A special vote allows a registered voter, who can't vote at their voting station on election day, to apply to vote on a predetermined day before election day.

For information on voting abroad during national elections, please see How to register and vote abroad.

Do I qualify for a special vote?

You can apply if you –

  • are a registered voter;
  • have a green, bar-coded ID book; smartcard ID; or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate (apply at a Home Affairs office); and
  • meet the conditions for the specific type of election (see below).

To make sure that you're registered and to find out where you're registered, you can:

By law, you can apply for a special vote if you:

  • can’t travel to your voting station because you are physically infirm, disabled or pregnant; or
  • can’t vote at your voting station on election day.

Municipal by-elections

The laws on special votes during municipal by-elections can be found in Section 55 of the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act, 2000 (Act No. 27 of 2000) (PDF - 240KB).

How do I apply?

During the period specified in the election timetable (only published once the election date has been proclaimed), go to your local IEC office (not the national or provincial offices) and submit a MEC35 form. Forms can only be hand-delivered (no emails or faxes are accepted), but someone else can deliver your completed form on your behalf.

You should receive an SMS notifying you of the outcome once your application has been processed, but you can also check the status of your special vote application online. 

When do I vote?

Dates for the casting of special votes (usually a day or two before election day) are predetermined and published in the election timetable for a specific election. The election timetable is only published after the election date has been proclaimed (officially announced and gazetted).

By law, special votes can only be cast on the date/s specified in the election timetable and no exceptions can be made.

Where do I vote?

  • If you can’t travel to the voting station where you are registered because you are physically infirm, disabled or pregnant, voting officials will visit you at the place where you're living (must be within the voting district where you're registered) and allow you to vote.
  • If you can travel, but can’t vote at the voting station where you are registered on election day, you will vote at the voting station where you are registered on the date specified in the election timetable (usually a day or two before election day).

What happens when I cast a special vote?

If your application for a special vote is successful, you will vote as follows: 

  1. Your thumbnail is marked with indelible ink.
  2. Your ID book is stamped.
  3. You receive the relevant ballot paper(s).
  4. You mark the ballot(s) in secret, place and seal the ballot(s) in an unmarked envelope
  5. The unmarked envelope is placed in another envelope that is marked with your name, ID number and voting district (VD) number. The use of two envelopes is to ensure the secrecy of your ballot (the outer envelope is discarded before counting).
  6. IEC officials take the envelope and place it in a secure ballot box for special votes.
  7. Your name is marked off the Voters’ Roll with “SV” to indicate that you have cast a special vote.