High voter turnout for special votes

At least 80% of voters who had applied for special votes cast their ballot at their voting stations over the weekend.

This is according to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) chairperson, Glen Mashinini, who was briefing the media on the eve of the Local Government Elections, due to be held on Monday.

Mashinini said the commission expects to have visited all those who applied for home voting by the end of Sunday, which will add to the to the high turnout at the polling stations during the special voting process.

“While we are pleased as the commission with the turnout over the past two days, the commission wishes to point out that voters who were unable to cast their special vote for whatever reason may still vote at their voting station [on Monday].”

Mashini said the two days of special votes offered valuable lessons in how best to execute elections.

“The two days of special votes have also offered us as the commission insights that we now believe will enable us to refine our operations to positively impact the voter experience that we expect [for] South Africans, who will be coming out in their large numbers to cast their votes.

“Therefore, we urge the 26.2 million compatriots who are eligible to come out and cast their votes at their respective voting stations,” he said.

Turning to matters related to Election Day itself, Mashinini reminded voters that voting stations will open at 7am and close at 9pm but those still standing in line beyond the cut-off time will be allowed to cast their ballot.

“It is important to emphasise that the eligible voters who will be at the voting station at 21:00 in the queues will not be turned away. The commission wishes to remind all the eligible voters that voters must vote where they are registered.

“Further, you must be in possession of a valid South African identity document. Home Affairs offices are open [on Monday] to allow voters to collect their IDs, as well to apply for the temporary voting certificates,” he said.

Mashinini said the details of some 140 000 voters could not be captured before the voters’ roll was closed.

He said those voters will also be given an opportunity to participate in the elections.

“These voters will be permitted to vote as though their details were on the voters’ roll segment of the voting district in which they present themselves. This arrangement is authorised in terms of…[the] Municipal Election Act, which allows for a voter to be allowed to vote on presenting proof that they had applied for registration before the proclamation of an election,” he said.

Addressing reports of possible inclement weather for some parts of the country that may hinder voting, Mashinini assured that measures and plans are in place to ensure that voters are not left stranded.

“The necessary steps have been taken to manage the potential negative effect of the inclement weather on the voting and counting processes. In cases where tents are blown away or there’s a disruption with the voting stations, the commission wishes to assure that plans and contingency plans have been put in place to… have those stations re-erected or to speedily ensure that we are able to proceed besides those possible disruptions,” he said.

The IEC chairperson said the commission has worked with stakeholders from across the board in preparing for the elections, and that the commission has done “everything in its power” to deliver free and fair elections.

“All systems are good for Election Day. It is time now for all of us to work together to make sure that these elections are free and fair and safe, and that the outcome – as it should be – will reflect the will of the South African electorate.”

Source: South African Government News Agency