Smaller parties cry foul over 'double voting' danger, other objections during IEC process

2019-05-09 05:13

Smaller parties have warned the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) that there may be consequences for it over its inability to efficiently respond to objections lodged on voting day. 

At least three smaller parties lodged complaints with the IEC over several objections made. The objections included the closure of some voting stations, a lack of ballot papers and the ability to easily remove indelible ink, which is used to verify voters.

During a media briefing at the IEC's results centre in Tshwane, Gauteng on Wednesday night, shortly before midnight, the commission's former CEO and current commissioner Mosotho Moepya said two separate instances were brought to their attention involving allegations that voters had cast more than one vote at different voting stations.

"The commission views these allegations in the most serious light and has launched investigations into these incidents. Fortunately the election process contains a number of checks and safeguards which together, serve to protect the integrity of the process," he said. 

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has lodged complaints with the commission claiming that officials on the ground lacked efficiency needed to oversee voting stations.

Party head of policy Mzwanele Manyi believed IEC officials were poorly trained. He said scanners used to identify registered voters did not work at some stations.

"I think the issue here this is poor training, just incompetence... A lot of people that were waiting for hours decided to turn back. If you had to say to me now the voter turnout is not what it should be, I think some percentage would be contributed by that."

Manyi accused the IEC of a lack of transparency, saying that it has been trying to manage parties and journalists.

He said he was not satisfied with the manner in which the commission responded to journalists' questions about its indelible ink and possible double voting. 

"I just think they could have been more transparent."

Land Party's national co-ordinator, Maxwell Motlake, said they knew of 10 supporters who were "illiterate" and were allegedly "duped" into voting for the BLF and EFF, instead of the Land Party, by IEC officials. 

"They have been misled and we raised the matter with the IEC. We spoke to the CEO (Sy Mamabolo). We feel aggrieved because chances are that it is a tip of the iceberg. We might be losing a lot of votes. Losing one vote due to an IEC official is something we cannot tolerate, something we cannot accept."

During a separate press briefing at the Western Cape's results centre late on Wednesday night, commissioner Courtney Sampson said the chances that a person could vote more than once were minimal. 

This, after the Congress of the People (Cope) also raised concerns about double voting.

"But if anybody can bring us proof – and I'm not talking about rumouring – action will be taken," Sampson added. 

At the start of the press briefing – around 22:00 – every party present in the Western Cape elections centre in Century City, outside the Cape Town CBD, had the opportunity to make a brief statement. 

Cope premier candidate and outgoing MP Deidre Carter brought a bottle of Domestos to the podium. She said after she heard that people removed the ink on their thumbs and voted twice, she tried it and the ink immediately came off.

She then went to four voting stations, where her ID was scanned and she was issued with the slip, which meant that she would have been able to vote again. 

"How many people voted more than once?" she asked. 

Sampson said it was "unacceptable that we have indelible ink that is not indelible".

He said it didn't happen everywhere that people could remove the ink and he questioned whether it would affect the outcome of the elections.

He said parties must provide evidence, and if people were found to have voted more than once, they would be charged with voter fraud. Several other parties also had complaints, mostly relating to the unavailability of the forms needed to apply to vote at a voting station other than the one where the person was registered, and the issue of secure ballot papers.

Sampson explained, as he did at an earlier press conference, that this was due to people voting at stations where they were not registered, and the fact that ballot papers had to be transported with a police escort, causing delays. 

"Same problem every election!" outgoing DA MP David Maynier, due to join the Western Cape legislature, shouted, as he often did in Parliament.

The IEC repeatedly said that the election process contains a number of checks and safeguards which together, serve to protect the integrity of the process.

The security measures include: The voters' roll which only allows registered voters to vote – and only allows for a single registration per voter, the requirement for voters to produce a valid ID document before they vote, the scanning of ID documents prior to voting, the marking of a voter's thumb with ink, the completion of a form containing the details of voters and the signing of a sworn declaration by voters where they vote at a voting station at which they are not registered, party agents and observers monitoring all aspects of the voting, counting and results capturing process, and in-built system-based exception reports for which various tolerance levels have been set.

READ: 'I took my vote from the ANC to the DA', says Coligny resident where racial tension is rife

These measures can be used to identify instances of electoral fraud. 

"Where evidence is found to support electoral fraud, the Electoral Commission will firstly quarantine the results of the affected voting districts and secondly, will pursue criminal charges against the perpetrators," the commission states. 

 

"The Electoral Commission will not allow the potential misconduct of one or two individuals – be they voters or election officials – to taint the overall outcome of these elections.

"The integrity of the results is paramount to the credibility of all elections and all election results are only finally captured and displayed in the results system where the commission is satisfied in the integrity of the results."

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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