IEC anticipates a smooth election

2011-05-18 09:35

Pretoria - Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula cautiously anticipated a smooth election on Wednesday.

"I think it's going to go well, but it's too early to tell," she said, arriving at the IEC results centre, at the old Pretoria showgrounds.

Tlakula, who earlier helped Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to vote in Hatfield, said she had not yet been briefed on how things were proceeding on the ground.

A media briefing would be held after midday to update the public on the progress of the local government election.

Hive of activity

The centre was a hive of activity before voting stations opened on Wednesday, with IEC support staff already fielding calls from officials on the ground.

IEC official on electoral matters Stuart Murphy said the centre was on the "pulse" of internal operations.

The "cross" or operations floor, a cordoned-off area in the middle of the centre, received and handled mostly internal complaints reported to the IEC from various parts of the country.

"We deal with operational challenges... voting stations not opening, ballot paper issues, training, logistics, any internal IEC challenges," Murphy said.

Directly in front of the cross was a large blue electronic board which would display polling results when they started filtering in, possibly between 21:00 and 22:00 on Wednesday.

Murphy said that the capturing of the actual results did not happen at the centre.

This would take place at 234 municipal IEC centres across the country.

Murphy said the IEC was "ready to roll".

Polling stations across the country opened at 07:00. Voters can cast their ballots until 19:00.

There are 4 275 ward seats and 460 proportional representation seats being contested in the municipal poll, with 121 parties taking part in 278 municipalities.

Ballot papers

In the 2009 national election, a shortage of ballot papers was a huge problem for the commission, particularly in Gauteng.

Murphy said this was unlikely to repeat itself as voters had to make their mark at the station at which they were registered.

"With national elections, you can basically vote anywhere, but local elections are different and that's why we don't anticipate that challenge."

Broadcasters had set up makeshift studios at the centre and were already live on air an hour before polling stations opened.

Two private security companies and police were handling security at the centre.

Eighteen police officers were on site, with additional "standby tactical capacity", said a senior officer on duty.

There were 36 guards from one security company deployed for the day and 24 would come on shift on Wednesday night.

Fire safety, the fire brigade, emergency services and disaster management were all on standby at the centre, ready for "any eventuality".

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  • Felix - 2011-05-18 09:58

    IEC=ANC - The IEC is just an instrument in the hand of the ANC

  • gcr - 2011-05-18 10:14

    Well I have just voted in Honeydew JHBurg and we were in the queue for 2 hours - the IEC are a disorganised bunch of idiots. They have 1 barcode reading machine and then they bring mothers with baby's and the over 65's to the front of the queue all the time so the sods in the original q get nowhere. Vote in the hall is a cinch as there is nobody there as the bottleneck is outside with this barcode reader machine. Disorganised and useless effort by the IEC. Also why so many IEC people around the polling stations doing nothing - no wonder it cost a fortune to run these elections paying non workers

  • Kas - 2011-05-18 10:49

    I wish to complain about the fact that at the Richards Bay primary school, voting station for Umhlatuze ward 2, wher I have voted several times before since 2000, the IEC officials sit with an incomplete or incorrect voters roll that has for an example not a single voter with the surname stating with "van der" and there should be hundreds if not thosands of us..... Hundreds of us, previously registered in this ward, after checking the IEC voters roll at their party stand, before going in to vote, discovered that our names was missing from the voters roll IEC staff used to check before handing out the ballot papers. This happenned after we received the printout from the handheld scanner. This is causing a huge delay as each and every person now has to queue in order to fill in a separate form before they are allowed to vote. This needs immediate attention as it may frustrate many voters to the extent where they will walk away rather than stand in the line for hours..... or is that the whole idea????

  • Eppie - 2011-05-18 16:00

    Buffelsfontein Voting Station in Port Elizabeth has run out of papers at +-14h00. After 1 hour wait the official came back with what appears to be once again not enough papers for the long lines that are waiting - they are going to run out again....this leads to voter frustration.

  • Eppie - 2011-05-18 16:01

    Buffelsfontein Polling Station in Port Elizabeth ran out of voting papers at +- 14h00. After 1 hour wait the official returned with a box that clearly did not have enough papers for the long lines of people waiting to vote - they are going to run out again...hope the voters have lots of patience and do not become discouraged.

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