Voting stations open

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says that most voting stations have opened across the country.

Deputy Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC, Mosotho Moepya says most stations have opened with the exception of 64 due to weather challenges.

Voting has begun in South Africa's fourth democratic General Elections taking place today from 7am to 9pm. President Kgalema Motlanthe has already cast his early morning vote in Colbin, Pretoria.

Voters who have begun queuing outside stations will need their ID books which will be scanned by IEC officials using hand-held scanners also known as Zip-Zips. This will verify if the person is registered to vote or not.

If a person is registered, the IEC officials will then mark the voter's left thumb with indelible ink, before giving them two ballot papers - one for their provincial election vote and one for national election vote.

Just before the ballot papers are handed over to the voter, they are marked with a special stamp on the reverse side. This is one of the safety measures introduced by the IEC. Each ballot paper has a unique bar code too.

The voter will then proceed into a voting booth, which will be protected by a screen to ensure secrecy, to make their mark next to the party of their choice.

There is no numbering on the actual ballot paper next to each party, to ensure the secrecy of the ballot by not allowing a ballot paper to be traced to a voter.

Counting will first be conducted at the respective voting stations. Each voting station receives two results slips per election. The results slips are completed by the Presiding Officer and countersigned by the Deputy Counting Officer.

The slips are also signed by party agents. The two results slips are completed identically at the voting station, with one remaining at the voting station where it is displayed.

The other one is sealed in a transparent tamper-proof bag which is checked at the local capturing office.

A further innovation is that the results slips are to be scanned and displayed at the Results Operations Centre (ROC) alongside the computerised results captured on the system.

After scanning, the results will be captured, using double blind capturing and validations.

The Commission have employed independent qualified auditors to verify that the results captured on the results system at each local office in fact correspond with the results on the original results slip as received from the voting station.

A unique code is entered on the system once the auditor is satisfied that the result has been recorded as per the original results slip.

If not satisfied, the auditor does not certify the result and it is returned. The results system used by the IEC incorporates exception identification and reporting.

As soon as all exceptions have been resolved and the image is available, the result will be available in the reports and on the display boards at the Results Operations Centre in Pretoria.

The results process concludes with the announcement of the results once seat allocation and assignment has been completed.