With the 2019 National elections taking place on Wednesday, May 8, having South Africans able to easily find their nearest voting station has never been more important.
Although the IEC has launched a very useful online Voting Station Finder tool, the physical addresses for countless voting stations listed on the website are either incomplete or missing altogether. This serves as a stark reminder of the problems that South Africa faces with addresses in rural, informal and in some cases even urban areas.
Take for example the Duikersdal voting station in Postmasburg, in the Northern Cape (Voting District 65500118), which the IEC’s online tool simply lists a street address of “FARM”…
A new South African website launched at the start of this year, www.overhere.co.za, provides a free solution for the likes of lost voters. Using the website, voters can easily convert the GPS co-ordinates (latitudes and longitudes) found on the IEC’s website into more user-friendly mapcodes that can be decoded back to pinpoint address locations on the same website.
For example, the complete mapcode for the Duikersdal voting station used above is simply ZAF CGMS.WCX, and directions to it can be easily shared for mobile devices with this direct URL (generated by the website at the same time as the mapcode): www.overhere.co.za/use-a-mapcode/?t=ZAF&ma=CGMS&mb=WCX.
Alternatively, a brand new ‘Live’ page on OverHere.co.za will also help South Africans on the ground at polling stations (e.g. voters or community leaders) to immediately generate a mapcode for their precise location on their GPS-equipped cellphones, as well as a shareable link that will lead other users to popular mapping solutions such as Google Maps or Waze for directions.
“The IEC is to be commended for an extremely effective online approach in 2019, and without a doubt the problems experienced with physical addresses are not theirs alone – most of South Africa features physical addresses which are either hard to decipher, non-existent or impossible to find without an intimate knowledge of the local area,” explains the founder of OverHere.co.za, Leon Schnell.
“This is just one of countless use cases where mapcodes (as a free and open-source technology that can be integrated into any website or addressing solution) can and will save the day, by transforming all unaddressable locations into short mapcodes with an accuracy of within five to seven meters.”
Four easy steps for voters to help themselves and their neighbours:
- Find your voting station on the IEC’s website: http://maps.elections.org.za/vsfinder/
- Copy the “Latlong” figures for the voting station into the coordinates converter here: https://www.overhere.co.za/get-a-mapcode/
- Click the button to generate a mapcode for your voting station and write down the mapcode and save the URL that is generated for easy reference and sharing with other voters in your area
- When you need to travel to your voting station, simply click on the direct link above or enter the mapcode into https://www.overhere.co.za/use-a-mapcode/