A total of 28 political parties have registered to contest in the eagerly-awaited elections. The Electoral Commission (IEC) announced this yesterday (09/04) at a media briefing in Bloemfontein. These numbers were announced ahead of the national and provincial elections to be held on Wednesday, 8 May.This year’s elections will be the sixth since the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994.Itumeleng Liba, manager of electoral operations of the IEC, said some of these political parties will contest both provincially and nationally. He said 11 newly formed parties have registered to contest in the forthcoming elections. Of the newly founded parties, some have registered to contest in the Free State and Northern Cape, while bigger parties such as the ANC, DA, EFF and Cope are registered to contest countrywide.Liba said the commission has managed to register 1,4 million voters for the upcoming elections of which the 28 parties will compete to have fair share of votes, who will be able to cast their ballots at 129 voting stations. The commission has 129 voting stations where registered voters will cast their ballots on 8 May. According to Liba, the commission has taken the necessary measures to ensure that the elections will be a success. He said there was a significant increase in the number of voters that have registered to vote, attributing this to good work done by the commission. Nkosana Macala of the IEC said the commission has opened applications for people who want to cast special votes ahead of 8 May, and for those who are physically unable to go to voting stations on the election day.Applications for special votes will close on 18 April having officially opened on 8 April. According to Macala, voters whose applications are approved will vote on 6 and 7 May in line with the commission’s rules and regulation. Members of the general public will vote on 8 May. “When applying, members of the public must ensure that they fill in the necessary details, such as a physical address, so that members of the IEC can facilitate the special votes on 6 and 7 May.” Mmabatho Rasengane, provincial spokesperson of the Electoral Commission, said the IEC will conduct voter education campaigns throughout the Free State to ensure that people understand the process of voting. To ensure the smooth running of the elections, the commission has also trained 109 field workers and coordinators to educate people about elections do duty in the municipalities. Of these trained field workers, six are people with disabilities. “The inclusion of people with disabilities is to ensure that the elections are free and fair, representing all the various sectors,” said Rasengane.The commission announced that all systems are in place for the elections. Those who want to apply for special votes can do so via the IEC website, or by sending an SMS to 32249.