The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has opened its two-week window for applications for special votes in the 2019 national and provincial elections. This only applies to votes cast in South Africa, as the closing date for overseas special vote applications was 13 March.The window period for applications closes at midnight on 18 April 2019. The cut-off date is mandated by law, says the IEC, and no exceptions can be made.Apply online to cast a special vote.You may apply on behalf of someone else, but this must be indicated on the application. Special voting in South Africa’s 2019 elections will take place between 09h00 and 17h00 on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 May 2019, as per the election timetable. By law, special votes can only be cast on the dates specified in the election timetable and no exceptions can be made.Special votes may be cast at the voter’s home or at a voting station. The former applies only to voters who are unable to reach a voting station on the day because of illness, physical infirmity, disability, or pregnancy. A voter may apply to be visited at an address outside of the voting district where they are registered.Special votes can also be cast at the voting station where the voter is registered, and will also take place between 09h00 and 17h00 on 6 and 7 May 2019,Do I qualify for a special vote?You can apply if you:Are a registered voter;Have a valid South African identity document (green, barcoded ID book, smartcard ID, or valid temporary identity certificate).To check that you’re registered and to find out where you’re registered, you can:Check your voter registration status;SMS your ID number to 32810; orCall the IEC’s contact centre on 0800 11 8000.How to apply for a special vote at my voting station?If you can’t vote at your voting station on election day, you may apply to cast a special vote at your voting station in one of the following ways:Using the IEC’s secure online application form;By SMSing your ID number to 32249 (R1 per SMS). This is for a special vote at a voting station ONLY.By visiting your local IEC office (not the national or provincial offices) and submitting a VEC 1 form. Forms can only be hand-delivered (no emails or faxes accepted), but someone else can deliver your completed form on your behalf.How to apply for a special vote by home visit?If you can’t travel to your voting station on election day for the reasons specified, you may apply to cast a special vote at home in one of the following ways:Using the IEC’s secure online application form;By having a family member or friend visit your local IEC office (not the national or provincial offices) and submitting a VEC 1 form. Forms can only be hand-delivered (no emails or faxes accepted), but someone else can deliver your completed form on your behalf.In both cases you will 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.What happens when I cast a special vote?If your application for a special vote is successful, you will vote as follows:Your thumbnail is marked with indelible ink.You receive the relevant ballot papers.You mark the ballots in secret, place and seal them in an unmarked envelope.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).IEC officials take the envelope and place it in a secure ballot box for special votes.Your name is marked off the Voters’ Roll with “SV” to indicate that you have cast a special vote.