South Africa: Tech Crucial in Future SA Polls but Cybercrooks Lurk

Johannesburg — TECHNOLOGY offers the greatest promise of overcoming the challenges encountered in South Africa's recent elections but cybercrime is a major risk to these prospects.

This is according to the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa, Glen Mashini, as factors such as "double voting" threatened to undermine confidence and trust in the elections.

Experts have proposed technology to address such issues.

Mashinini disclosed IEC had made "no firm decisions yet" on the future role of technology in the voting and counting processes but whatever changes would be required, must be anchored in sustainable and business imperatives that must be at the heart of safeguarding electoral democracy.

"But it is self-evident from the challenges we face that technology offers the greatest promise of overcoming these challenges. That does not mean technology is a silver bullet," he said.

Speaking at a just-concluded technology conference in Sun City, North West, Mashini counseled that technology came with some risks and challenges.

Among these, he said, are cybersecurity threats and the costs associated with the investment in technology.

Presenting on 'Perspectives on Technology in South African elections', Mashinini nonetheless expressed confidence cyber security threats could be managed through strict security protocols and related data protection measures.

The national elections held in May were the sixth South Africa has held since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Some 19.7-million South Africans cast their ballots in the first poll. Between 1999 and 2019 the voters' roll grew by 47 percent from 18,17 million to 26,7 million.

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