SA election body rejects Linux users
Fourteen years ago South Africa buried Apartheid and, for the first time ever, all South Africans were able to vote in democratic national elections. It was a pivotal moment in South African history.
It’s a pity, however, that the South African Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which runs democratic elections in the country, finds it unnecessary to allow South Africans to access its website.
Visiting the IEC website with anything other than Windows and Internet Explorer rewards users with the following message:
“Our server detected that you are using a Browser or Operating System (e.g. Netscape, Mozilla Firefox, etc) which is
currently incompatible with our site. This web site is designed for Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 4 and above on Microsoft Windows. The IEC is currently in the process of enhancing the web site so that it will also cater for other browsers. We apologize for the inconvenience caused.”
The fact that the IEC website doesn’t work on anything but IE and Windows – I tried Opera and IE on Linux using Wine – is an anomaly.
The South African government has an approved open source strategy and has published Minimum Interoperability Standards for Information Systems in government which commits government and its agents to open standards.
It’s a poor show from an organisation entrusted with facilitating democracy in the country.
The good news is that there are people of influence within government that are aware of this. Department of Science and Technology CIO, Aslam Raffee, was the person who first pointed out the IEC website to me.
Lets hope that the IEC can fix this problem before the next national elections when it will become important for All South Africans to be able to access the website.