All systems go for 8 May

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Excitement is mounting with just hours to go until South Africans head to the polls in the National and Provincial Elections.

The Electoral Commission on Tuesday afternoon called on every South African citizen to celebrate 25 years of democracy by ensuring tomorrow’s elections take place in the spirit of 1994.

“Let voting continue peacefully, calmly and without disruption and let us once again show the world that South Africa remains a shining light of democracy in action,” said Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo at a briefing at the Results Operation centre (ROC).

The IEC also took the opportunity to remind voters of the following key information regarding voting:

- They must be registered to vote. Voters can SMS their ID to 32810 or call 0800 11 8000 to check on their registration and voting station details. The Contact Centre will be open between 7am and 9pm to assist voters with any queries.

- They must take a valid ID document which is either a green barcoded ID book, a smartcard ID or a valid temporary ID certificate. Branches of the Department of Home Affairs will be open tomorrow should voters urgently need a temporary ID certificate.

- Voters whose addresses are not reflected on the voters’ roll will be required to provide their address prior to voting. Proof of address is not required.

- If voters are voting in a voting station in their province they will be handed two ballot papers – one for the national election and one for the provincial election.

- Voters should ensure these ballot papers are stamped at the back by an election official.

- Voters then cast their ballots and place their marked ballot papers into a ballot box.

- Voters are reminded that the secrecy of the vote is protected by law and it is an offence to take a photograph of a marked ballot.

As Tuesday marks the final day for special voters to cast their ballot, Mambolo said the two days of special voting helped iron out teething problems and ensure everything is in place and ready for Election Day.

Among the challenges encountered was a crime-related incident on Tuesday.

“A group of knife-wielding men confronted a group of election officials conducting home visits in Giyani, Limpopo and confiscated 93 unused provincial ballot papers which they destroyed.

“Fortunately no-one was injured and the cast ballots were secured and not affected,” said Mamabolo.

Two suspects have been arrested and are now in police custody.

In another incident, two vehicle accidents involving election staff were reported over the past two days but fortunately only minor injuries were sustained.

Mamabolo said the IEC was investigating some irregularities that have been reported.

One such irregularity includes the double envelope system not being used in some special voting yesterday as well as some ballot papers which may not have been stamped at the back.

“The stamping of ballot papers immediately prior to them being issued to voters is an important security measure.

“These incidents were also reported to the Party Liaison Committee this morning which has made recommendations to the Commission on these cases – including to accept the ballots where their legitimacy can be verified,” said Mamabolo.

The Commission will ultimately make a decision on whether these votes are included in the count or not.

The Electoral Commission also removed a Deputy Presiding Officer from a voting station in Benoni, in Ekurhuleni following an investigation into a video showing a party agent assisting with the transfer of special votes.

“Party agents are not permitted to handle any election material and may only observe and raise objections,” said Mamabolo.

In Tzaneen, Limpopo a pack of three unused and unassembled ballot boxes was found on the side of the road.

Investigations showed it was lost in transport by the area manager.

The person has been suspended pending an internal disciplinary. The ballot boxes were recovered by SAPS and returned to IEC.

Special votes abroad

Special votes from 113 of the 121 foreign missions which were cast by voters abroad on 27 April 2019 have already been received.

Internationally, there are eight outstanding batches of special votes which are en route to South African and are expected to arrive before 9pm tomorrow night.

“The special votes cast overseas will be counted at our National Office on Thursday morning in front of party agents,” said the CEO. –