Special voting going "very well": IEC

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pretoria - Today’s start of special votes at voting stations and home visits had been a good systems and readiness check which had gone very well, says IEC Chairperson Advocate Pansy Tlakula.

“Just under 400 000 voters had successfully informed the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to cast a special vote today and tomorrow – either at their voting station or by being visited by election officials in the case of voters who are disabled, pregnant or ill,” she said on Monday.

She was briefing reporters at the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) first press conference for the 2014 General Elections at the Results Operations Centre in Pretoria.

“Special voting was taking place in all but 3 593 of the country’s voting districts where no special votes had been applied for. This provided a very good “dry run” and systems check for Wednesday,” said Tlakula said.

Disruptions of special votes

She said only minor instances of primarily logistical issues were reported during the day, such as high winds along the eastern seaboard in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which had blown over tents erected as temporary voting stations overnight.

However, she said the tents had been re-erected today. “Other incidents reported included the delayed opening of isolated voting stations due to delays of material deliveries, staff arrivals and some difficulties in gaining access to premises.

“There were some isolated incidents of community protest action which were reported to the security structures and SA Police Service had been deployed in these areas to monitor the situation and to ensure the security of the voting process,” she said.

With regard to the torched community hall in the troubled Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, the IEC chairperson said the torched facility was not the one they were using as a voting station.

Government has since condemned the torching of the room at Ekuzoleni Primary School at Sterkspruit, as a callous act by criminal elements hell-bent on trying to destabilise the area ahead of May elections. 

Despite this, the voting at the school continued successfully as planned.

“The police have deployed a high-level team to track down and bring the perpetrators to book. Community members are urged to remain calm and look forward to cast their votes on Wednesday, 7 May 2014. Intimidation is a serious crime and government will act accordingly,” Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) Acting CEO Phumla Williams said on Monday.

There are security plans currently under implementation to ensure that all voting stations, related material, deployed personnel and the public are secured.

“Government is determined to protect South Africans from any form of intimidation,” Williams said. 

Special votes from abroad

Tlakula announced that just over 12 000 marked ballots had arrived by courier from international voting stations.

She said they are being reconciled against the list of voters who successfully notified the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to vote outside South Africa.

“The ballot papers will then be set aside in ballot boxes and securely stored until local voting stations close and the counting of all ballot papers starts at 9pm on May 7. The votes from all international voting stations will be combined into a single international voting district.

“More ballots are expected to arrive today and tomorrow from other international destinations. It will only be known how many voters cast their votes at international voting stations last week once counting begins but approximately 27 000 voters were expected to vote abroad,” she said.

Voting stations open for all registered voters at 7am on Wednesday and voting will continue until 9pm at night.

Registered voters should vote at the voting station where they are registered and must have their green barcoded ID book, a temporary ID certificate or a new smart ID card in order to vote. - SAnews.gov.za

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