Few ‘minor glitches’ in otherwise smooth special voting day

2011-05-17 00:00

ONLY two minor “abnormalities” across more than 3 900 voting stations in KwaZulu-Natal were reported by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) during special voting yesterday.

The IEC had allowed the casting of a special ballot yesterday for voters who will have other commitments tomorrow.

They include IEC staff, security forces, senior citizens, journalists and the disabled.

IEC provincial electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said minor abnormalities occurred at Estcourt and Ezinqoleni voting stations, where ballot papers were sent to the wrong voting stations.

“Fortunately, by the time that was discovered not a single vote had been cast in those voting stations,” Mosery said.

“That incident served as a warning for us to take precautionary measures to ensure that does not happen during the voting day on Wednesday.

“Another challenge was starting on time. People who were visited at homes to cast their vote were very excited and no major hassles were experienced.”

Mosery said 33 000 people had applied to vote yesterday, with about 25 000 to be visited at home by IEC officials and 8 000 to cast their vote in voting stations across the province.

Those who had registered to cast the special vote, but failed to do so, will still be able to vote tomorrow, Mosery said.

Nationally there were “insignificant” glitches on the first day of special voting yesterday, but these were resolved, said the IEC.

They included three protest marches — one by domestic workers at the IEC’s Eastern Cape results centre and two by people unhappy about job opportunities in Thulabathe, Limpopo, and in Bloemfontein, chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula said in Pretoria.

“People out there want to use elections to highlight their issues,” she said.

Tlakula said the IEC is working with the police to ensure that there are no impediments to the elections.

She said there were administrative problems in some polling stations when they opened at 7 am, such as the unavailability of ballot boxes and envelopes, but that all these problems were resolved.

The only voting stations open yesterday were those in areas where South Africa’s 239 000 special voters were registered.

Tlakula said alternative voting venues had to be arranged in three areas.

A voting tent was blown away in bad weather in one area; in the Northern Cape a funeral was being held; at the third, in eThekwini, a tennis tournament was being held.

Tlakula said 250 000 IEC staff were on duty yesterday.

She said 705 million ballot papers will be distributed across the country ahead of election day tomorrow, in preparation for a 100% voter turnout.

Tlakula said she is hoping for at least a 40% voter turnout. There was a 48% poll in the last local government elections.

She said there were concerns that it would rain, particularly in Gauteng and parts of the Free State tomorrow, and she urged people to vote regardless.

“We don’t melt,” she said.

She said rain could also affect the IEC’s ability to distribute material.

Tlakula said there were contingency measures in place in case bad weather affects electricity supply and staff attendance.

She warned that all canvassing by political parties has to stop by midnight tonight.

Anyone who does not comply could be sentenced to five years in prison, she said.

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