IT has been hailed as one of the most closely and hotly contested local government elections since South Africa's first democratic election in 1994. Candidates from 723 political parties are standing throughout the country and the number of Independents is the most ever. A total of 6 014 candidates will be standing in these local government elections. A total of 26,3 million voters are entitled to make their choices at the 133 000 polling stations. In Umvoti four political parties - ANC, DA EFF, IFP - and three Independents, are contesting the election in the 11 "old" wards and the three new wards added through the changes in boundaries by the Demarcation Board. Fourteen councillors and 13 PR councillors will make up the new Umvoti Municipal Council. Umvoti's 58 550 registered voters will make their mark at one of the 90 polling stations in the district. Voting starts at 7am today (Wednesday 3 August) and the stations close at 7pm. Chris Naidoo of Greytown IEC said that everything was going according to the planned schedule and he did not envisage any problems in the area. Temperature for today is predicted at 23°C and sunny so no excuse not to go out and vote. Voters are reminded they can only vote at the station at which they are registered and must produce an identity document. The Greytown Department of Home Affairs will be open on election day from 7am to 7pm for anyone needing a temporary ID.Greytown office manager Denise Moodley told the Greytown Gazette that there are about 700 IDs waiting to be collected. At the polling station, after your ID has been scanned and checked and a small indelible ink mark made on the left thumb (to prevent voting a second time around) the voter will be given three ballot papers all of which must be stamped on the back. The three are yellow ballot, this is the vote for the political party you support, a representative of which will be a PR councillor in Umvoti grey and white ballot is the vote for the councillor to represent your ward on Umvoti Council - either from one of the four political parties standing in Umvoti or an Independent candidate. Green ballot this is the vote for the political party you support, a representative of which will be a PR councillor on Umzinyathi District Municipality. Please remember that when you make your mark at the ballot booth photographs or selfies of the ballot papers or the ballot booth are strictly not permitted. And most important of all, your vote is secret. Counting of the votes takes place once the stations have closed at 7pm - various legal requirements and guidelines which have to be adhered to. On completion the result slip is transported to Greytown IEC offices where it is checked, monitored and captured on the system. The results are made public, but are not official until confirmed within 7 days. Any objections have to be lodged by 5pm on Friday 5 August. A special formula is applied to proportional representation votes and the IEC will inform the political parties, once all the votes are in how many PR councillors each party has been allocated. If you are a registered voter, please make your mark today.