IEC adamant to get 22- million eligible voters by Election Day

Sunday, February 8, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is adamant to reach its target of getting 22 million South Africans on the voter's roll for this year's General Elections.

Hundreds of South Africans on Saturday visited more than 19 000 voter registration stations across the country to register for this year's general elections.

IEC Chief Electoral Officer, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, said the Commission was satisfied with the turnout.

"We have just over 21 million registered voters. Our target is a cool 22-million voters by the time the voters' roll closes. So far we are on target.

"Just like previous registration weekend last November, we are promoting this national effort with the hope that it will help answer voters' questions, register new ones and make participation as simple as possible," she said.

Registration began as planned in all nine provinces this weekend, with all voting stations secured with police officers to ensure the safety of voters.

The weekend's voter registration drive was intended to provide eligible voters with all of the information they need to vote in the upcoming general election.

New voters were being registered, while eligible ones were being given the opportunity to find out if they were registered, allowing them to check their voter registration status, including confirming their voting locations for the 2009 polls.

Ms Tlakula said hundreds of other voters were still using the IEC's website to check their voting status.

By midday on Saturday, the IEC had received 64 590 Short Message Services (SMSs) from people wishing to confirm their registration status.

The call centre had already received more than 30 000 calls and the website received 92 527 hits.

However, on Saturday, Advocate Tlakula said they experienced challenges at few stations across the country.

In KwaZulu-Natal, she said, rain delayed the opening of some stations on the South Coast. In all other areas, including Nongoma, stations opened on time and registration was going smoothly.

She further said in one voting station in Zeerust, in the North West, protesters attempted to stop people from entering the voting stations, saying they wanted more delivery of services from the government.

In Moutse, Limpopo, where a group of residents want to be incorporated back to Mpumalanga, Ms Tlakula said there were reports of intimidation against IEC staff at six voting stations.

However, police accompanied IEC staff to open the voting stations.

"With the assistance of the police, most of these problems have been resolved. We are appealing to communities to support voter registration and allow IEC staff to execute their duties," she said.

Advocate Tlakula also urged eligible voters to finalise their details.

"We are grateful that people are using our internet facility and call centre. We are pleading for patience as we deal with the high volume of visits and requests for information," Ms Tlakula said.

South Africans have been advised to SMS their ID number to 32810 or to visit the IEC website on www.elections.org.za and enter their ID number to find out if they need to register or change their details.

In the first round of voter registration, in November last year, a total of 1.6 million South Africans registered to vote and more than 3.6 million South Africans in total visited the stations to register for the first time, re-register after a change in address or inspect their details on the voter's roll.

There are now over 21.6 million South Africans on the IEC's voters' roll. Young people also took note of the IEC's call to register, with 77.9 percent of all new registrations falling in the youth category.

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