Special voting kicks off

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pretoria - Special voting got off to a slow start here on Monday with eligible voters expected to show up at voting stations around the city later today and tomorrow.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) those who qualify for a special vote include voters with physical disabilities, pregnant women, those absent on government service abroad, as well as election officials and security force members on election duty.

At least 84 000 people have applied to cast special votes. But, this figure can increase as hospital patients and retirement home residents have until 5pm today to register to qualify for a special vote.

Speaking to BuaNews on Monday, Presiding Electoral Officer at the Caledonian Sports Ground voting station, Liza Ngobeni said they were expecting more people to show up later in the day and tomorrow.

Less than ten people had cast their votes at the station since this morning.

"We are also open for special cases such as for people who cannot walk to the station due to illness or disability," Ms Ngobeni said, adding that only one pregnant woman had showed up at the station to cast her vote.

Ms Ngobeni however said they are ready for the influx should it happen that people turn-up in their numbers.

According to the IEC, officials visiting eligible voters to assist them with their votes are expected to clearly identify themselves and the purpose of their visit.

"They will ask the voter for his/her South African green bar-coded identity document (ID Book) or valid Temporary Identity Certificate and once they are satisfied that the person visited is the person who applied to cast a special vote, they will mark the voter's left thumbnail with indelible ink and stamp the identity document with the official IEC stamp."

The voter will then be given a National and a Provincial Ballot Paper and be allowed to vote in secret before the ballots are placed in unmarked, sealed envelopes.