Vast majority of voting stations operational

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pretoria – As the first day of voter registrations draws to a close, the Independent Electoral Commission says it is pleased that 99.77% of the country’s voting stations were fully operational since the morning.

The IEC has set aside 9 and 10 November for South Africans to register to vote for next year’s general elections. Stations opened at 8am this morning and will close at 5pm.

“The vast majority of the country’s 22 263 voting stations are fully operational and assisting eligible voters to register ahead of next year’s national and provincial election. 99.77% of voting stations have been operating normally since opening,” said the IEC.

Some delayed openings were reported in a small number of voting stations due to the double bookings of venues, the late arrival of landlords with keys to locked premises, and the late withdrawal of staff.

In most cases where access to the venue was delayed, election officials used their initiative and operated from the vehicles or in the open, allowing early visitors to register with minimal delay until they could gain access to the venue.

Other incidents reported by election officials were disruptions to temporary infrastructure, two separate vehicle accidents suffered by election officials en route to their voting stations, and a herd of elephants on the road to a voting station at Pont Drift around Mapungubwe near the Botswana border which delayed elections officials reaching the voting station.

The IEC said election officials were working closely with security forces, community leaders, political parties and other stakeholders in areas were on-going registration activities have been affected sporadically by isolated incidents of community protest.

These include Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, Malamulele in Limpopo, the Joe Morolong municipality in the Northern Cape, Lansdowne Road in the Western Cape, and Bekkersdal in Gauteng.

Officials and authorities were working to ensure citizens’ rights to register to vote are not impacted and that voting stations are operational as soon as possible, according to the commission.

The IEC reported its highest ever volumes of visitors to its various interactive and information channels.

The commission’s website www.elections.org.za peaked with over 270 000 visits on Friday and by 12pm today a further 138 000 people had visited the site. On Friday, more than 177 000 people had SMSed their ID numbers to 32810 to check if they were registered. The FaceBook page (IECSouthAfrica) and Twitter account (@IECSouthAfrica) have also proven highly popular.

“The Electoral Commission hopes that this awareness and interest translates into a high turnout at voter registration stations this weekend – especially by the youth,” it said.

The commission hopes to increase registrations to 80% of the voting age population in line with levels of previous elections. – SAnews.gov.za

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