Millions to cast their votes

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

About 26.7 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots on Wednesday during the sixth General Elections. 

The elections are taking place as South Africa celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first democratic elections.

A total of 22 924 voting stations will open from 7am until 9pm to allow voters to cast their ballots for the national and provincial elections. 

Voting stations will close at 9pm but all voters who are in the queue to vote at 9pm will be allowed to vote.

“Once the voting station closes, the counting of votes begins immediately at the voting station. The counting is conducted by election officials and is witnessed by party agents and observers,” the Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa said.

According to the IEC, voting stations will be staffed by approximately 189 000 election officials who have volunteered and been trained over the past two months to conduct the elections.

Voters can check their voting station location by SMSing their ID number to 32810 (R1) and can reach the Contact Centre on 0800 11 8000 for all enquiries regarding the elections.

“There are on average 8 election officials per voting station which includes the Presiding Officer, Deputy Presiding Officer and officials to perform the various aspects of the voting process,” the IEC said.

These duties include assisting voters in the queue including checking that they have the right identification documents (only green barcoded ID book, a smartcard ID or a valid temporary ID certificate is accepted).

They will scan the voter’s ID document and check the voter’s name against the voters’ roll. They are also responsible for inking the voter’s left thumb with indelible ink, stamping and issuing the voter with a national and provincial ballot paper.

“Officials are also available to capture addresses for voters whose addresses do not appear on the voters’ roll.

“Each political party is also permitted to deploy two party agents at every voting station to oversee and monitor voting and counting,” the IEC said.

Sixty six observer organizations have been accredited by the Commission.

The IEC said the record number of 48 parties contesting these elections has placed additional demands and pressures on the Commission, as well as on voters.

“The longer ballots have placed additional financial and logistical demands on the Commission including requiring more ballot boxes, redesigned Universal Ballot Templates (UBTs), and a refined focus on balloting education.

“Demands are also placed on voters, including the visually disabled who have to navigate a wide range of choices on longer national and provincial ballots,” the Electoral Commission said.

The Commission has improved the ballot with the following innovations:

  • The 2019 ballot papers have been redesigned to enable easy identification of the party of choice by the voter, to facilitate the selection of that party with confidence and to minimise risks of miscast ballots.
  • Party identifiers are far more distinct and the sequence of party identifiers on the ballot paper has been re-ordered.
  • For visually impaired and special needs voters, the Commission has produced TEN customised voting aids called Universal Ballot Templates (UBTs) to fit the newly designed 2019 national and provincial ballots.
  • Each voting station will have a UBT to accommodate the national ballot and one for the provincial ballot.
  • For all voters, the Commission has developed large posters showing the national ballot and the provincial ballot. These will be displayed in each voting station to help voters easily distinguish the different parties on the ballot list. –