Voting for the blind off to a good start

2016-08-02 12:18
The shop run by Kaleidoscope, previously known as the Institute for the Blind in Worcester. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Cape Town – Voting went well for about 100 blind residents at a centre in Worcester, who were among the first to make their mark during special voting for the municipal elections.

A special voting station was set up in the hall at the Kaleidoscope, previously known as the Institute for the Blind, for those who did not want to go to a voting station on Wednesday, said Stephné Botha, manager of residential care.

“This was done for their comfort and safety. But for anybody who wants to go on Wednesday, our staff will be able to help.”

Residents there voted on Monday.

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) uses a universal ballot template to accommodate the blind. It is a voting aid made of hard, black plastic into which the ballot paper is inserted.

According to the IEC’s website, the right front side of the template has a flap with cut-out windows numbered in Braille and in large, raised white print.

When the ballot paper is inserted into the template, each window aligns with a particular candidate or party.

A voting station official helps by reading out the parties or candidates’ names and their number on the ballot paper. Once the voter understands the process, the official withdraws and the vote takes place in secret.

Botha said the over 300 residents were keen radio listeners and could keep up to date with election news that way.

Once they had voted, residents went about their daily lives.

The centre includes a shop which sells a variety of products residents made and a specially-packaged brand of coffee.

The IEC received more than 740 000 applications for special votes for this election - more than three times the number received in 2011, and nearly double that received in 2014.

Of the 719 225 approved special voters nationwide, 315 597 (44%) were for home visits and 403 628 (56%) were for early votes at polling stations on Monday and Tuesday.

- Find everything you need to know about the 2016 Local 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, or download the app for iOS and Android. 

Read more on: iec  |  cape town  |  local elections 2016