Voter asked to remove nail polish at voting staion

Sylvia Walker's thumbnail clearly showing the area where her nail polish had been scratched off.

A Lakeside woman who went to vote last week says an election official told her she had to first remove her nail polish if she wanted to cast her ballot.

Sylvia Walker says the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) official at the Church of Christ voting station insisted she removed the varnish before voting.

This struck Ms Walker as odd because she recalled voting in previous elections while wearing it.

Ms Walker said there had not been many people at the station when she had arrived there at 6pm.

After scanning her ID she made her way to have her thumb marked – and this is where she encountered the problem.

She told the official she could not remove the varnish as she did not have any remover with her. She asked the official if she was sure about it as she had never heard of not being able to vote due to wearing nail polish.

She said the official replied: “Have you never voted before?”

Ms Walker left the queue and went outside to try to scratch her nail polish off.

She managed to scratch off a small patch and the IEC official allowed her to vote.

After her experience, Ms Walker posted it on a social media group and Carolynne Franklin who identified herself as an IEC voting station observer and party agent, responded: “I can assure everyone that nobody was turned away due to manicures… It is an IEC rule that one has to have ink on (your) nail and skin and cuticle. Some people were asked to push their cuticles back a tad so this could happen…”

Another social media user, Bron MacGregor, who identified herself as a counting agent, said she had been in the polling station at the time.

According to her post she “did not witness anything untoward”.

She said 2 453 people had voted at Church of Christ, and no one else had such an experience.

Ms Franklin attributed the situation to “a slight language misunderstanding”.

However, Ms Walker is sticking to her story and said her daughter was a witness.

“I definitely was not asked to push my cuticle back. The official made it very clear that if I didn’t remove my nail polish I couldn’t vote,” she said.

IEC spokeswoman for Gauteng, Kate Bapela, said there were no rules stopping someone from voting if they were wearing nail polish.

She referred the Echo to the Western Cape spokeswoman for further comment, but she could not be reached.

The wife of EFF leader, Julius Malema had a similar experience when voting in Mr Malema’s hometown, Seshego, Limpopo.

Mantwa Matlala-Malema was told she had to remove one of her artificial nails before she could cast her vote.

Mr Malema responded by saying IEC officials should know the rules that govern elections “by heart”.