TODAY, in the Eastern Cape Province, 4 669 voting stations in 715 wards opened at 7am and will close at 7pm. The voting hours have been shortened compared to National Elections because voter participation data from previous elections shows that fewer than 1% of voters cast their ballot after 7pm. Currently, the province sits at 3.3 million registered voters since the proclamation of Local Government Elections 2016. In the 2011 Municipal Elections the registered voters in the province were 3.1 million and since the 2000 elections, there has been an increase of 31.85% of registered voters. A total of 4 699 Presiding Officers, 4 802 Deputy Presiding Officers, 717 Area Managers and 18 666 Elections Staff has been recruited and trained to manage these elections. “The election staff at the voting stations have been trained to perform their duties with diligence, commitment and responsibility. It has also been emphasised that they should treat the electorate with respect and dignity - to practise impartiality and most importantly to manage the elections guided only by the legislation,” said Thamsanqa Mraji, Eastern Cape Provincial Electoral Officer.This year, there are 3 municipalities with mobile voting stations, namely the Sakhisizwe, Camdeboo and Amahlathi Municipalities. A total of 40 Parties and 166 Independents will be contesting the Municipal Elections in the Eastern Cape. The Buffalo City Metro has the shortest PR ballot paper compared to other metros countrywide with only 12 parties contesting the Elections. 19 Parties in the Nelson Mandela Metro will be contesting in these elections. Provincial candidates stand at 8 493, which is made up of 4 057 PR Candidates; 4 270 Ward Candidates and 166 Independents. There has been an increase since the 2011 Municipal Elections as the figure then was only 7 239. In this province, 71 111 voters have been approved for Special Votes while 46 881 will be visited at home and 24 230 will be able to visit voting stations on the Special Votes Days on August 1 and 2.“On security matters, to keep peace, law and order, the South African Police Service will deploy at least 2 SAPS members to all voting stations. On Special Vote Days, the SAPS have committed to their members patrolling and accompanying election staff during home visits,” said Mraji.The IEC working together with SAPS regarding security also prioritised the voting stations that challenged the two Registration Weekend Events. “In terms of the Election Timetable the province is ready for Municipal Elections 2016,” Mraji adds.The Provincial Results Operations Centre is based at the ICC hotel in East London and was officially launched on July 31. There are three types of ballots involved in the municipal elections and they are colour coded:Ward Ballot Paper - this ballot will have a grey/white background and every voter will receive a ward ballot paper.Council PR Ballot Paper - this ballot will have a yellow background and every municipality will receive a Council Ballot Paper.Thirdly, a District Council PR Ballot Paper - this ballot will have a green background and every voter in a local municipality will also receive one.Should a voter not appear on the voters’ roll for the voting district where they applied to register to vote, and have a barcode sticker in their identity document that was provided to them by the IEC when they applied to register to vote, they will be required to complete an MEC 7 form and will then vote normally,” Mraji said.Voters who were given a separate receipt of registration when they registered using a smartcard should bring this receipt with them. A voter does not need an address to vote in this election. In its ruling on June 14 of this year, the Constitutional Court ruled that the requirement that the voters’ roll contain addresses for voters was suspended for 2016 Municipal Elections. The Constitutional Court ruled that for all future elections the voters’ roll must contain the addresses of voters where these are reasonably and objectively available. “Subsequent to the Constitutional Court, the IEC is to ask all voters who visit a voting station on Election Day to fill out an address capture form if they don’t have an address on the voters’ roll. This will not affect the voting process,” Mraji said. Only after voting, will the voter be asked to complete an address form. Voters do not need a proof of address to vote, but they do need to be in possession of a valid official South African ID document, such as a green barcoded ID book, a Smartcard or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate. For more info, call 080 011 8000 or visit www.elections.org.za.