Voters improvise

2016-08-10 06:00
VOTERS in Harrismith and Qwaqwa marked ballots in cars instead of in voting booths after a strong wind uprooted several tents erected by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) during last Wednesday’s local municipal election. Photo: Supplied

VOTERS in Harrismith and Qwaqwa marked ballots in cars instead of in voting booths after a strong wind uprooted several tents erected by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) during last Wednesday’s local municipal election. Photo: Supplied

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A STRONG wind that caused major disruptions at several voting polls in Qwaqwa and Harrismith did not discourage enthusiastic voters from making their mark during last Wednesday’s (03/08) municipal election. Cars parked around the voting stations came in handy as voting booths and voters made their mark for parties of their choice. The use of cars as voting booths was one of the stringent alternatives by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) after a strong wind that ripped through the country blew down tents in Harrismith and Qwaqwa. Stringent measures also saw the IEC using churches as voting stations in the wake of the unpleasant weather.

However, party agents felt aggrieved by the desperate move of having voters use vehicles as voting booths. Party agents in Monontsa, Qwaqwa then lodged complaints with the IEC on the day in question after a presiding officer of Ward 11 asked voters to mark their ballot papers in a car. Residents of Ward 5 and 6 in Harrismith voted at a nearby church after tents also collapsed.

The same voting method was applied in Ward 15 in Tsierela and Ward 16 in Matsiekeng, Qwaqwa. Voters then placed the ballot papers in a ballot box stationed outside the vehicle. Party agents complained of a lack of electricity in most of the voting stations based in rural areas.

Mmathabo Rasengane, Free State IEC spokesperson, said the electorate was aware of the incident in which voters used vehicles as voting booths. She further said the electoral commission does not believe that voting in a car can have a negative impact on the outcomes of the election. Rasengane said the commission had instructed presiding officers of the affected stations to find alternative structures to continue with the voting process.

“Alternative structures could be any­thing that can allow voters to be able to exercise their right to vote,” said Rasengane.

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