98% of voting stations open

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pretoria - At least 98.24 percent of polling stations opened on time in South Africa's fourth General Election, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said on Wednesday.

"We have received reports that 19 121 of the 19 726 voting stations opened on time. Those that did not open on time were primarily temporary stations which were affected by challenges such the weather. This situation improves every minute. We are confident that those stations which did not open, will soon do so," said the IEC Chief Electoral Officer, Adv Pansy Tlakula.

"Everything is peaceful, tranquil and harmonious. A carnival mood is prevailing across the country led by the first citizen, President Kgalema Motlanthe who cast his ballot at 7am in Pretoria. We hope to collectively as a nation, sustain and maintain that tradition," she said.

Other South African leaders and politicians were expected to vote at their local stations throughout the day. Voting stations close at 9pm.

Wednesday's election is being watched by 5 000 domestic observers and 352 international observers. About 358 diplomats from 61 embassies are also visiting polling stations.

The IEC has pulled off an administrative and logistical feat. The Commission has registered 23 181 997 registered voters; 86 578 special voters. It received 17 937 applications for special voting abroad in 106 countries.

The Commission printed about 55 million ballot papers; about 450 tons of paper was used to print ballot papers and materials to be used include 394 400 staff identification stickers.

In terms of the Electoral Act, final election results have to be released within seven days after the election. This is to cater for objections on results.